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Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk protests at meeting attended by Norman Lamb, the minister of state for care and support, in Saxmundham

PUBLISHED: 10:13 18 January 2015

Minister Norman Lamb speaking at the public meeting in Saxmundham. Protestors outside the meeting.

Minister Norman Lamb speaking at the public meeting in Saxmundham. Protestors outside the meeting.

Archant

Campaigners for better mental health services in Suffolk and Norfolk have raised concerns with a government minister about the "completely inadequate" budgets they say care providers in the region are facing.

Norman Lamb, the minister of state for care and support, was met by a dozen members of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk during his visit to Saxmundham on Thursday. The group was started by frontline staff and service users in response to the cuts at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

It claims the service already suffers from disproportionate under-funding compared with physical health services and is being hit even harder by government cuts, leaving vulnerable patients less well supported.

Group member, Steve Martin, joined after his brother David, who suffered from schizoaffective disorder, died alone in his flat in Ipswich from pneumonia last year, aged 52. Mr Martin said his brother was living in “squalor” with no heating or hot water after the removal of care visits.

“What we really want to bring to the Government’s attention is the level of service that people are faced with is completely inadequate – and they are looking to cut more,” he added.

Rachel Smith-Lyte, the Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for Suffolk Coastal, said Mr Lamb “came across very well” but added it was important to “keep reminding the coalition government about how important” health funding is.

Michael Scott, NSFT chief executive, said the trust shared the campaign’s aims to improve quality of care, and outlined improvements to dementia care and the placing of mental health nurses in Suffolk police cars, as examples. He said the financial challenges faced by the trust were a national issue, but stressed its commitment to deliver safe, sustainable services while saving costs.

Mr Lamb was last night unavailable for comment.

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