But Service Remains Inadequate And Insecure
Andy Evan, the CEO of HealthEast, the clinical commissioning group (CCG) which holds the funds for the NHS services including Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has produced a plan for the future of mental health services, including the future of Carlton Court Hospital in Lowestoft.
All adult acute mental health services at Carlton Court will close with the number of beds reduced to 20 and relocated to Northgate Hospital in Yarmouth. All dementia beds will close but six beds in private nursing homes will continue to be used. Assessment will not be carried out in Norwich.
Up to ten beds for older people with mental health issues will temporarily reopen in Laurel Ward until outpatients’ teams are ready. Young people’s mental health services will be transferred to Carlton Court from Lothingland. The one section 136 suite, where people in police custody with suspected mental health issues can be assessed, is to be located at Northgate Hospital.
The plan involves more travel for people in Lowestoft, either to Yarmouth or Norwich. It depends on the success of the support teams which will treat people in their own homes, and relies on a great improvement in after treatment care. If it works then Laurel Ward will close and there will be no inpatient beds for adults in Carlton Court. If it doesn’t work the plan fails both medically and financially. The plan isn’t dissimilar to the one we were consulted on and which was overwhelmingly rejected. It is a gamble, a gamble with peoples’ lives.
Large numbers attended the consultations and forcefully made their views clear. Credit must also go to Bob Blizzard and in particular to Terry Skyrme of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk. Without that campaign things could have been much worse.
But as one patient present at the meeting said, the plan was always driven by money. There is over occupancy of existing beds ad needs are expanding. Andy Evans and the local Gps who own HealthEast want “to use resources better”. LCAC’s chair Stephen Mynott put the question back to them, “Why don’t you join us and demand greater resources?”. They didn’t have an answer.