Suffolk: Mental health trust to slash inpatient bed numbers

MENTAL health inpatient beds in Suffolk are expected to be slashed from 150 to 117, as part of a radical redesign of the service which will see 177 frontline jobs axed.

The figures, revealed in an internal document seen by the EADT, show 33 beds are likely to be cut over a four-year period.

It comes as Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Aidan Thomas admitted some patients are already having to be sent out of Suffolk and Norfolk for treatment.

But he said clinicians are confident that the redesign could reduce pressure on beds.

The mental health trust is proposing to axe around 500 jobs by 2016 – in Suffolk 177 frontline posts are at risk, from a pool of 821.

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Bosses are hopeful compulsory redundancies will not be required and said inpatient beds will only be cut when there is evidence they are no longer needed.

Mr Thomas said the 250 clinicians involved in the service redesign are looking at preventative measures which could be put in place to stop people becoming very ill or getting to a point of crisis, as well as using treatments which give patients more choice.

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Acknowledging the trust does not manage patients with some particular health conditions as well as it could, for example people with personality disorders, Mr Thomas said too many patients are being admitted to wards when they could be treated in the community.

He said: “One way we could save more is by centralising our inpatient beds but we are not doing that. We are making sure that every locality - West Norfolk, Central Norfolk, Yarmouth and Waveney, East Suffolk and West Suffolk - has inpatient services for all ages of adult.”

The trust has around 4,100 whole-time equivalent staff. However the cuts are planned to come from a pool of just 2,130 frontline staff.

Back office services faced cuts and redundancies when the former Norfolk and Waveney and Suffolk mental health trusts merged at the start of this year.

A 90-day staff consultation is under way.

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