Mental health care in Norfolk suffers fresh blow amid social care shake-up

Serious concerns over the social care provided to adults with mental health issues has led to Norfolk County Council taking action. Serious concerns over the social care provided to adults with mental health issues has led to Norfolk County Council taking action.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
2:27 PM

Serious concerns that social care for adults with mental health issues in Norfolk is not good enough has led to the county council taking responsibility for the service away from the mental health trust.

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Background

Social care for people with mental health issues was aired at a meeting of Norfolk County Council’s community services overview and scrutiny panel in November.

Councillors at that meeting heard how, at one point, council bosses could not be confident the authority was fully meeting its legal care obligations.

Bosses admitted the social care service for adults with mental health issues in Norfolk was not good enough, as they pledged to make improvements.

A report into the issues was commissioned in October last year and published in the spring, before the contract was extended for a year with a plan for improvements.

Officers said: “The current arrangement is not providing the necessary outcomes required to ensure a modernised mental health care system is provided within Norfolk.”

Talks between the council and the trust were ongoing and Harold Bodmer, the council’s director of community services, said: “Both of us agree there is a need for the model to change, both of us know what areas need to be addressed and above all both of us agree that working together will be the best way to change them.”

Care of vulnerable Norfolk adults with mental health problems suffered a fresh blow after the plug was pulled on a £4m-a-year contract amid major concerns about provision.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) was urged last year to urgently improve social care for adults suffering mental health issues.

However, County Hall chiefs announced yesterday that the service, which provides support for around 1,600 people a year, will be transferred back to the control of the county council later this year.

For six years, social care for 18 to 65-year-olds with mental health problems has been provided by staff from NSFT. However, an independent review identified a number of areas for improvement and the NHS 
trust was given a year to address issues.

How the EDP has previously reported the story. Graphic by Annette HudsonHow the EDP has previously reported the story. Graphic by Annette Hudson

Officials from the county council yesterday said a new model of social care would be adopted from September this year, and directly managed by the local authority.

Around 100 mental health staff are set to transfer to the employment of the council by the autumn.

Norman Lamb, North Norfolk MP and health minister, said he would be monitoring the changes closely.

“My concern is to ensure that we improve and enhance joined-up integration teams working between social services and mental health. I absolutely would not want to see a service split up with service users falling through the gaps between social services and mental health. I am assured that it is not their [Norfolk County Council’s] intention and provided that is the case, I can understand the decision to monitor the service and have more control,” he said.

The service consists of social workers who are specially trained to deal with people with severe mental health needs. The team also provides round-the-clock emergency support to assess whether people need to be detained under the mental health act and specialist social workers who work with people with drug and alcohol issues.

Sue Whitaker, cabinet member for adult social services at the council, said they would continue to work closely with NSFT in the future.

“We need to revise and strengthen the way we provide social care for people with mental health needs and we feel the best way to achieve this is to manage the service directly. We’re not the only council to take a decision like this in this context, so this isn’t simply a Norfolk issue.

“Both the council and the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust are committed to making this transition happen as smoothly as possible, for staff and particularly people who use the service.”

The county council pays NSFT £4.1m a year for the social care service. The trust is currently undergoing a major redesign of services to reduce its budget by 20pc.

Andrew Hopkins, acting chief executive at NSFT, said: “The council and the trust have been working to review the current arrangements and while there are positive things about the current arrangements, both parties recognise that the service has not been working as well as we would want.”

Terry Skyrme, of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, added: “It must throw their [NSFT’s] service strategy into chaos, but we do not know the full implications yet. We were integrated, but this is disintegration and it means more change and instability.”

10 comments

  • What a shambles, now both NCC and the Trust are trying to cover their own backsides.

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    John L Norton

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

  • changes in social care with mental health workers once again having to apply for their own jobs ( the third time in 3 years, being downgraded and possible lose of jobs) how much more can these professionals take. I have friends working in the service and they are feeling very weary of this constant change. Every shift is working with lack of staff and a constant battle trying to find beds within our area. they are having to make decisions that puts their registration under threat. Nobody seems to care , why is mental health always considered to be the poor relation. The mental health trust is falling apart or is it being set up for privatisation. Just to add they have not had a salary increase for 3 years.

    Report this comment

    plum49

    Wednesday, January 29, 2014

  • Why on earth would the County Council think they are more suited to take this over? They have proved to be embarrassingly useless at everything they have tried to do.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

  • So that`s waste, education and now social care. I think it`s reasonable to say that Norfolk County Council hasn`t been fit for purpose for a number of years now. They carry on tinkering but nothing really changes.

    Report this comment

    democrat

    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • The people of Norfolk especially the young and the vulnerable have been badly let down by previous administrations, many of them sadly still in situ.They have done everything in their power to cut expenditure whilst pumping the £millions saved into their pet projects to appease their real paymasters who fund their political party.

    Report this comment

    Unemployed and Luvin it.

    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • Lets hope it doesn't increase the burden onto the hospital. After all you wouldn't be having an operation at Hellesdon Hospital would you?

    Report this comment

    getalife

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

  • I have a seriously mentally ill relative, and have been impressed by the calibre of the MHT staff. The main problem seems to be lack of resources, and the continuing treatment of mental health as a Cinderella service. These proposals don't seem to address the lack of resources, and could lead to further disruption for clients, many of whom are already suffering from welfare cuts in general.

    Report this comment

    CSC

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

  • Mental health care in Norfolk is in melt down..Staff, patients & the wider community are being let down very badly by the mismanagement of mental health care in the county. At least some people can now look forward to a brighter future thanks to NCC seeing the condition of management in the health trust..

    Report this comment

    el84

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

  • I'm disabled and took yrs of fighting to get a social worker and then a personal budget. I finally had carers start when my budget did in June and its made so much difference as my partner needs to work full time to support me and kids, also have 2 disabled kids, nothing to do with my conditions as they were diagnosed before I got ill. Never expected it would happen to me but it did! Carers bath me, prepare meals, help with general house duties, fetch me drinks n food when I'm so ill I can't get out of bed ect, then I have a PA who takes me out a couple of times a wk or just keeps me company as lost all friends through being bored of me being sick all the time, I've just come out of hospital again and now Ss are coming next month to review my budget as they have over spent but now I'm home from hospital I need more care and time! Yet they will lower my hrs.and leave me in a muddle.

    Report this comment

    thumper327

    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • The Mental Health Trust is a farce, offering a terrible service to some of the most vulnerable people. Regardless of what people say about NCCs recent performance they are trying to improve things and are of course directly accountable to us all via elections and in between elections through our local councillor. Good for NCC for taking back this service and having a plan to address concerns the Mental Trust seem to have been in denial over. I just feel sorry for the staff who will not be transferring and those relying on the services they try their best to provide, against the odds.

    Report this comment

    Jonny

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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