Call for mental health funding as new phone number is launched

NSFT is urging people to contact NHS111 option 2 if they need mental health support

NSFT is urging people to contact NHS111 option 2 if they need mental health support - Credit: PA

Campaigners have called for more investment in mental health services after an NHS Trust’s mental health crisis line received more than 100,000 calls in two years. 

A spokesperson for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, called for more funding to ensure services were available when needed, fearing Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) did not have the capacity to support people. 

The call volume equates to more than 130 enquiries a day.

From April 5, NSFT’s First Response service is transferring to NHS111 option 2 to ensure people who need quick access to mental health support can do so through a simple, nationally-recognised number. 

“We are very concerned, although not surprised, to hear the high number of calls received during the last two years, as NSFT does not have the capacity to provide the support these people need. 

“We cautiously welcome the transfer to 111 option 2 because this means that service users and carers will now know the number they need to dial,” the spokesperson said. 

However, the spokesperson warned the changes would be ‘purely cosmetic’ without sufficient staff and called upon Integrated Care Boards and Clinical Commissioning Groups to invest in mental health to provide the same level of care as a patient with a physical issue. 

Stuart Richardson, chief operating officer at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) Ph

Stuart Richardson chief executive of NSFT - Credit: Archant

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Stuart Richardson, chief executive officer at NSFT, said the aim of transferring the First Response service was to make it easier for people to access the care they need. 

He added recruitment of staff was ongoing to meet the demand for accessing the service. 

“Since its launch in April 2020 our mental health crisis line has received over 100,000 calls. 

“By providing direct access 24 hours a day, seven days a week to a team of mental health professionals offering information, advice, brief psychological interventions, and a crisis response where needed, many service users and carers have been supported and their needs prevented from escalating further,” Mr Richardson said.