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Norfolk and Suffolk mental health bosses quizzed over job and bed cuts

PUBLISHED: 16:10 22 November 2012

Councillors have questioned the leaders of Norfolk and Suffolk’s mental health trust on how they plan to make improvements to services while cutting hundreds of jobs and inpatient beds.

The issue of the closure of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s day services for elderly people was also raised at the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting today.

The mental health trust is proposing to shed 502 front-line jobs over the next four years through a ‘radical redesign’ which it says is being led by clinicians. Beds are also proposed to be reduced, from 225 to 172 in Norfolk and Waveney and from 150 to 117 in Suffolk.

The trust is hopeful it will not have to make any compulsory redundancies and says inpatient beds will only be axed when there is evidence they are no longer needed.

However committee member Tony Wright, Norfolk County Councillor for Marshland North, said: “I still can’t see how you are going to save services with so many fewer staff and fewer beds. I can’t see it’s going to happen.”

Dr Neil Ashford, who is leading on the redesign of dementia services, said: “It’s about stopping doing things that use a lot of resources but for which there is very little evidence that it makes a difference and doing more of the things that don’t so much resources and make a big difference.”

One area where the trust hopes to do this is by axing its day hospital services for elderly people, which it says are used by relatively few people and have a very high cost.

Dr Ashford said: “We are looking at other ways to provide services to more people in a less expensive way.”

For more on this story, see tomorrow’s paper.


  • The Local Authority (Overview and Scrutiny Committees Health Scrutiny Functions) Regulations 2002 gives Norfolk or Suffolk County Council the authority to '(7) In any case where an overview and scrutiny committee considers that the proposal would not be in the interests of the health service in the area of the committee’s local authority, it may report to the Secretary of State in writing who may make a final decision on the proposal and require the local NHS body to take such action, or desist from taking such action, as he may direct.' If ever there was a case in which this power should be exercised, this is it. Norfolk County Council must refer these proposals to Jeremy Hunt if Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust does not immediately agree to 'radically redesign' to cut bureaucracy rather than services. What Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust proposes runs completely counter to the Nicholson Challenge and the public interest. The bureaucracy is running amok.

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    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • The cuts are not taking place over four years - the Trust's own timeline shows the bulk of the process being completed by September 2014 and finished by April 2015. The changes are taking place already and the consultation is a sham. While all the 807 bureaucrats in central and corporate services keep their jobs, the number of doctors and nurses working in adult psychiatric services is being halved. Despite the Trust spending more than £3 million and rising over the past two years on beds out-of-Trust, it is planning to reduce the number of full in-patient beds in Norfolk & Waveney from 112 to 75, which is 33% - perhaps the financial modeller who thought the N&N PFI deal was a good idea has moved to Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Entire services are being slashed. The Trust claims partial justification for its cuts by saying that forty per cent of budget is spent on two per cent of patients. Using this 'logic', the operating theatres and intensive care beds at the N&N would be closed. This Trust's management's warped and self-interested logic means that services to the most vulnerable and in need are being slashed, while the executive Board continues to pay itself £750,000 per annum. The claim that this is clinician-led is bogus, as clinicians would have cut waste and bureaucracy and maintained services, in line with the ethos of the Nicholson Challenge, and do not support these changes or believe them to be safe. Clinicians were never given this option - they were told to cut services to the most needy at the expense of the bureaucracy. MPs should be calling upon Sir David Nicholson to investigate.

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    Friday, November 23, 2012

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