Next steps in Suffolk’s mental health shake-up announced

A shake-up is planned for mental health services in Suffolk Picture: KATARZYNA BIALASIEWICZ / GETTY

A shake-up is planned for mental health services in Suffolk Picture: KATARZYNA BIALASIEWICZ / GETTY IMAGES / ISTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

How a major shake-up planned for Suffolk’s mental health services will be delivered – and how it is being funded – will be scrutinised by experts at a meeting tomorrow.

Dr Ed Garratt, chief officer of Suffolk's CCGs Pic: IPSWICH AND EAST SUFFOLK AND WEST SUFFOLK CLINIC

Dr Ed Garratt, chief officer of Suffolk's CCGs Pic: IPSWICH AND EAST SUFFOLK AND WEST SUFFOLK CLINICAL COMMISSIONING GROUPS/BEN CARMICHAEL - Credit: Archant

Aimed at transforming the way patients access help, the county’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have developed a four-part model to give people quicker access to specialist support.

Thousands of people have had their say on the plans, which would see mental health services delivered in community locations or ‘clusters’ of GP practices.

The new system comes as the main mental health provider in Suffolk – the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) – remains in special measures.

Bosses say the immediate priority right now is to improve the care people receive.

However, outlining their next steps in documents released ahead of Suffolk County Council’s health scrutiny committee meeting, the CCGs have announced plans to develop ‘early adopter’ sites in Ipswich and Haverhill.

These will help to test the strategy, with a view to rolling it out fully.


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Spending on mental health care will also increase to £4.2m for 2019/20 – up 6.3% from 2018/19.

Outlining the plans earlier this year, Dr Ed Garratt said: “The strategy sets out a vision for how the whole system has a role in supporting people’s emotional wellbeing.

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“We want to make sure people 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.”

The four-part strategy is as follows:

1. Self-care – Better access to advice and information aims to help people be more confident in self-managing their health, wellbeing and social care needs.

2. Early and consistent support – When emotional wellbeing dips, help will be given early, in and around GP services.

3. Community-based care – Support given at a community level, moving away from criteria-based admissions.

Each GP surgery would be given access to a ‘named linked worker’.

Help would be age inclusive, with access through schools/colleges.

4. Specialist services – A mental health crisis response service is planned in east and west Suffolk.

At-home treatment teams, police triage and psychiatric liaison services would work together to prevent mental health issues escalating.

Poor access to mental health services and waiting times at the NSFT were among concerns raised by the Care Quality Commission at their November 2018 inspection.

MORE: New measures to fix ‘broken’ mental health services

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