Bid for new mental health beds to reduce number of patients sent outside Norfolk and Suffolk
PUBLISHED: 18:30 28 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:27 29 March 2019
New mental health assessment unit beds could be opened in Norfolk and Suffolk after it was revealed scores of patients are being sent out of the two counties for their care.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) announced negotiations to open 16 beds at the Yare Ward in Hellesdon, Norfolk, are at an advanced stage with commissioners and make up part of a raft of initiatives to reduce the problem.
A total of 82 mental health patients from Suffolk and Norfolk “in acute distress” were placed outside the two counties for care in January, the highest number since October 2016. That number included 73 patients from Norfolk and nine from Suffolk.
Jan Falkowski, a clinical director at the trust, said during the NSFT’s board meeting at IpCity in Ipswich on Thursday, March 28 that the addition of 16 new beds could reduce the number of patients placed outside Suffolk and Norfolk for treatment to 30 within six months.
Stuart Richardson, the trust’s chief operating officer, added: “We want to work to get to the point that nobody has to go out of the area because it’s the last thing we want to do.
“Our long term aim is to treat them in the community and if they do need a bed they should be found a bed here.”
He added: “The beds are just one of the issues, we also need to get the access right too.
“The extra bed places are not the answer to the problem but will help.”
The trust is also introducing a “Red/Green Days” system to make sure patients can get home as soon as possible after treatment.
The initiative labels days where nothing has been done to advance their care as a a “red” day - and those where progress has been made as a “green” day.
It is designed to better monitor a patient’s progression.
The trust is also putting into place a support package for families suffering financial hardship if their loved ones are placed out of the area.
The board meeting was the last current chief executive Antek Lejk will attend, as he is leaving the role in a week’s time.
The trust’s next chief executive Jonathan Warren attended yesterday’s meeting to get a clearer picture of the challenges the trust faces in the future.
Mr Lejk said: “I would like to welcome Jonathan who will take over as chief executive next week.”