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Union refuses to rule out industrial action at mental health trust

PUBLISHED: 18:52 01 May 2014 | UPDATED: 18:58 01 May 2014

Members of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk at the North Norfolk Clinical Commisioning Group meeting at Aylsham.

Members of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk at the North Norfolk Clinical Commisioning Group meeting at Aylsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

Union members at a mental health trust have refused to rule out industrial action over concerns about beds shortages and high workloads.

Approved mental health practitioners (AMHPs) from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) met today to discuss the impact of staff and bed cuts at the NHS trust. They voted unanimously to write to the trust’s board of directors with a set of suggested immediate actions and invited them to set a timetable for meaningful negotiations.

Unison members also voted unanimously to start the process of holding a ballot for industrial action over this issue, due to safety concerns and “intolerable” working conditions. They said there was a daily problem of undertaking mental health act assessments with no bed availability and the impact on service users of being transported hundreds of miles to the nearest bed.

Emma Corlett, Unison media spokesperson, said: “Staff spoke passionately about the daily reality of trying to do their job with insufficient resources, and the emotional impact of having to tell service users and their families that they are going to be admitted to a hospital hundreds of miles from home. This situation has persisted for far too long.”

“Industrial action is always an absolute last resort, but AMHPs did not want to rule it out in the event that the situation does not improve quickly.”

The trust has pledged to fill more than 400 vacancies and put a stop to out of area placements.


  • Mental health services are at breaking point; the responsibility is with the national government as well as poor management in local trusts as in this case. It is good to see UNISON trying to negotiate a way forward but sad that the intransigence of their management makes it necessary for them to warn of the risk of industrial action if this does not occur. The Trust's management should be holding discussions on how to improve services with staff reps (& service user reps) on an on-going basis.

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    Friday, May 2, 2014

  • Patients' and clinicians' concerns about the effects of cuts to manpower and resources over the past few years have been dismissed by the Trust for too long. Clinicians were accused of scaremongering or being resistant to change. But let's be clear about this - this isn't just a local or regional issue. Government so called reform of the NHS has demanded that Trusts up and down the country reduce their spending by eye watering amounts. The same government has stubbornly asserted that funding for the NHS has not been cut. Well, we don't believe you; our experience has tells us different. Its time that the Trusts told politicians the truth. That no-one can run a safe and effective service and comply with the health secretary's demands.

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    Friday, May 2, 2014

  • I know the caring people who work in Mental Health will not want to put any patients at risk by taking industrial action. If there is a better way to get extra resources without industrial action I hope they can find it. Some patients must be aware of the lack of funding and the demoralised staff, I pray this deplorable situation doesn't hinder their recovery.Mental health is still taboo to many unfortunately.Will this ever change?

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    Friday, May 2, 2014

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