Ministers told to put patients at centre of mental health redesign

PUBLISHED: 17:14 05 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:20 05 February 2019

Heather Edmondson from Litcham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Heather Edmondson from Litcham. Picture: Matthew Usher.


Health bosses have been urged to listen to how patients want to see mental health services change as they decide on a future for the region’s troubled provision.

Mearl and Tracey Brown.
Picture: Neil DidsburyMearl and Tracey Brown. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Health bosses have been urged to listen to how patients want to see mental health services change as they decide on a future for the region’s troubled provision.

Patients and bereaved families met with health minister Stephen Hammond in Westminster on Monday, and were joined by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.

And on Tuesday health secretary Matt Hancock joined with trust bosses, regulators, and MPs to discuss the next steps.

Previously seven Norfolk and Waveney MPs signed a letter demanding a plan for the trust by February 20.

Nyall Brown. Photo: Picture: Mearl BrownNyall Brown. Photo: Picture: Mearl Brown

But for many the issues have already dragged on for too long, including Mearl and Tracey Brown, from Cromer, who travelled to London on Monday. Mr and Mrs Brown’s son Nyall took his own life last year aged 19. When asked what should happen at the trust Mrs Brown told the BBC: “Actually do it, just do all the things you promised to do.”

While 68-year-old Heather Edmondson, from Litcham, who has had trouble with accessing services, also went to give her views. She said: “They need to get in people who actually know about mental health.”

Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) has now been put into special measures three times. But Mr Lamb said after Tuesday’s meeting he was no clearer on the next steps. He said: “I’m glad we had [the meeting] but I’m still fairly confused about where the plan is and my final point in the session was they’ve got to get out there and communicate with people in our county about what’s actually happening here.”

A handful of other Norfolk and Waveney MPs were also at the round-table meeting, including Clive Lewis, Peter Aldous, George Freeman, Richard Bacon, Sir Henry Bellingham, and Chloe Smith, plus trust chief executive Antek Lejk, the new trust chair Marie Gabriel, and the chair of the region’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) Patricia Hewitt.

A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said it “beggars belief that we’re apparently still at the stage of deciding what services should look like after five years of cuts and chaos”.

He added: “What patients and carers want is simple, services that deliver to the most in need, that are readily available in times of crisis.”

Antek Lejk, NSFT chief executive, said: “I am grateful to the minister of state for health for giving us this opportunity to update him, local MPs and senior NHS leaders on the current position at our trust and our plans to improve services.

“Among the many subjects we covered were our quality improvement plan, our cultural and structural change programme and investment in our Trust.”

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