Major shake-up of mental health services announced in Great Yarmouth and Waveney

Protest outside Carlton Court Hospital in Carlton Colville.Organised by Bob Blizzard.Picture: James

Protest outside Carlton Court Hospital in Carlton Colville.Organised by Bob Blizzard.Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

The number of acute mental health beds in Great Yarmouth and Waveney are set to be reduced by almost a third under proposals announced today.

All inpatient beds for adults in a crisis will close at Carlton Court, near Lowestoft, and more beds will be opened at Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth as a result of the major changes to services in the area.

Officials from HealthEast - the Clinical Commissioning Group for Yarmouth and Waveney - and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) said Carlton Court would still perform an important role with proposals to move an eight bed inpatient unit for children and young people from Oulton Broad to Carlton Court at Carlton Colville.

Commissioners added that the mothballed Laurel Ward at Carlton Court, which treats older people with mental health issues, would be reopened following a public consultation.

Twelve dementia assessment beds at Larkspur Ward at Carlton Court will remain permanently closed, but mental health bosses pledged to have a 24/7 Dementia Intensive Support Team (DIST) in the area to care for dementia patients in their own homes.

Anyone who needs specialist dementia inpatient facilities from the area will need to be admitted to Hammerton Court at the Julian Hospital in Norwich.

Officials added that there would be no reduction in the mental health budget in Great Yarmouth and Waveney as a result of the changes and there were no job cuts planned.

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They hope that the changes, which will involve an extension of Northgate Hospital to expand the number of adult acute beds from 14 to 20, would take place over the next nine months.

The proposals are set to be rubberstamped at a meeting of the CCG governing body on Thursday.

Andy Evans, chief executive of HealthEast, said: 'We have listened to the public, patients, stakeholders, the public and local clinicians. We have made real changes to the proposals as a result, such as planning to create three local centres of excellence - acute mental health services at Northgate, older people with mental health issues at Carlton Court and young people's mental health services at Carlton Court.'

'Consolidating acute services on one site will bring significant benefits in terms of quality of care and safety for patients. Having all the acute services on one site will be a major step forward. This continues to build on our plans to bring different services for patients together so patients experience better, 'joined-up' care.

'We are very pleased to have also clarified our strategy for dementia which is that dementia patients are best treated in their own homes and we are expanding our services to provide support around the clock for dementia patients and their carers.

'We also recognise that for elderly people with complex mental health issues we have to open more beds locally and we are pleased to be able to do this.'

Officials from HealthEast said that a third of patients in adult acute beds in Yarmouth and Waveney were from the central Norfolk area and NSFT was opening ten new assessment beds at Hellesdon Hospital to ease pressure.

More than 1,000 people took part in a three month consultation earlier this year over NSFT's plans to reduce the number of adult acute beds and older people's beds in the area.

80pc of respondents disagreed with a proposal to reduce the number of acute beds at Northgate Hospital and Carlton Court and relocate onto one site. 78.4pc of respondents were against the plans to close Laurel and Larkspur wards.

Michael Scott, chief executive of NSFT, said: 'This has been a long and difficult process. However, the seriousness of the decision and the impact of changes being considered to how we deliver our services, made it important for us to engage fully with service users, carers and our staff.

'This has enabled us to ensure the services we provide in Great Yarmouth and Waveney are the best for service users. While changes are implemented, we will support any affected staff to find suitable alternative career opportunities within the new teams.'

John Stammers, chairman of HealthEast, added: 'We are confident that 20 beds is the right number for acute mental health care for our residents. We are one NHS, and we will continue to work closely with our colleague CCGs, NSFT and the local health scrutiny committee to make sure that the need to transfer any patient out of the area is a rarity.

'We will continue to monitor the implementation of these proposals very carefully with NSFT, local clinicians, staff, patient representatives and GP practices to make sure that patients remain safe, that the quality of services is good, and that staff are fully engaged as we drive forward these improvements.'

See tomorrow's EDP for more.