Demonstrators gather outside Carlton Court to protest at mental health cuts
PUBLISHED: 09:19 15 September 2014 | UPDATED: 11:15 15 September 2014
Campaigners have held a demonstration outside Carlton Court hospital to voice concerns over the future of mental health services in Waveney and Great Yarmouth.
More than 40 people were involved in the rally outside the facility in Carlton Colville on Saturday.
The event was organised by Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveny Bob Blizzard amid growing concerns that two older people’s and dementia assessment wards at Carlton Court are to be closed.
It comes ahead of a crunch meeting on September 25 when HealthEast, the clinical commissioning group for the area, will make a decision on proposals by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) to cut mental health services on the east coast.
Mr Blizzard addressed the demonstrators at the rally followed by John Waters, who is the chairman of the Friends of Carlton Court, mental health worker Terry Skyrme and Suffolk County councillor Sonia Barker.
The group was cheered on by visitors and staff entering the hospital grounds.
During the event, Mr Skyrme said NSFT was also proposing to cut Section 136 suites at Carlton Court and throughout Norfolk and replace them with a single unit at Hellesdon.
The suites are used to assess whether patients need to be sectioned and provide a place of safety for vulnerable patients.
Mr Skyrme, who works for NSFT’s crisis team and is a member of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “While reducing in patients beds they have also decimated community services. They shouldn’t do either and they definitely can’t do both.
“There is a massive demand for beds because the community care is not there.”
Following the rally, Mr Blizzard said: “I thought we had a great response. What we have got here is patients, their families, staff and voluntary supporters of the facility and they are all saying with one voice ‘don’t close this facility’ because it is absolutely needed.”
HealthEast has held a public consultation over the proposed cuts, with 80pc of respondents saying were against a plan to reduce the number of acute beds at Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth and Carlton Court from 28 to 20 and relocate onto one site.
And 78.4pc of respondents were against the plans to close two older people’s and dementia assessment wards at Carlton Court.
The cuts are being looked at as part of NSFT’s need to save 20pc over four years.