Big shake-up revealed for Suffolk’s mental health services
PUBLISHED: 12:07 22 January 2019 | UPDATED: 12:14 22 January 2019
Suffolk’s NHS bosses have spelled out their vision for a major shake-up of mental health services ahead of a meeting of experts.
Proposals unveiled by the county’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) aim to transform the way patients access help – and make mental health “everybody’s business”, newly published documents reveal.
Bosses want their new four-part model, which will go before Suffolk’s health and wellbeing board on Thursday, to improve access to services and care for people in crisis.
It comes as the main mental health provider in Suffolk – the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) – was put in special measures for a third time.
This new system proposed by the CCGs aims to provide quick access to specialist support for both patients and professionals in community locations, or ‘clusters’ of GP practices.
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It puts forward their vision for a new ‘primary care mental health service’.
Chief officer Dr Ed Garratt said: “The strategy sets out a vision for how the whole system has a role in supporting people’s emotional wellbeing.
“The engagement work that informed this strategy was aimed at identifying Suffolk’s mental health needs by talking to the people who use and provide our services currently, rather than focusing on individual organisations.
“We want to make sure people who become unwell can get help quickly, by building support in the community and around primary health, and avoid the need for a hospital stay, as well as making specialist and crisis support easier to access.”
If approved, the new strategy would:
• Give each GP surgery in the Ipswich, east Suffolk and west Suffolk CCG areas access to a ‘named linked worker’ – providing support to patients and staff at a community level
• Practices would also have access to specialist community clinics and recovery teams
• The service would be age inclusive, with access through schools and colleges
• A new crisis model – which would see NHS teams work together to prevent mental health issues escalating and include at-home treatment teams, police triage and psychiatric liaison services – would also be adopted
• It would use the NHS 111 service as a gateway for accessing support
These plans are an updated version of the 2019-2029 mental health and emotional wellbeing strategy for east and west Suffolk.
Hard-hitting data in the document, sourced from Suffolk County Council’s mental health needs assessment, revealed nearly 50,000 people in Suffolk had been diagnosed with depression as of 2016/17.
And the rate of people being rushed to A&E after self-harming was higher in Suffolk than in the whole of England for that year.
What’s happening with NSFT?
Bosses at the region’s mental health trust were recently grilled by councillors at a meeting in Suffolk.
There, they set out their action plan for the first time since they were ranked inadequate for a third time in November.
Chief operating officer Stuart Richardson admitted the trust needed a “culture change” and identified four main challenges for staff going forward.
He also said he believes the CQC will visit the trust again in the next few weeks, to see if it has improved.
“We are working towards a culture change so that we can show our staff we can support them so that they can do their job properly,” he told the meeting.
“We absolutely recognise the faults identified by the CQC in their November report.
“We are completely committed to resolving the issues pointed out by the CQC.
He added: “We are aiming to complete all of the 61 ‘must do’ actions given to us by the CQC by the end of March.”