Fears over mental health changes

A BID to transform the way mental health services are provided in Suffolk may lead to a cut in frontline services, it was claimed today.Borough leaders have expressed their concerns after hearing a presentation from the Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust about its plans to become a foundation trust.

A BID to transform the way mental health services are provided in Suffolk may lead to a cut in frontline services, it was claimed today.

Borough leaders have expressed their concerns after hearing a presentation from the Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust about its plans to become a foundation trust.

A letter sent to the health trust from Ipswich Borough Council said it is “concerned that the increased bureaucracy which apparently comes with foundation status will further divert resources from frontline services”.

The health trust is at the latter stages of applying for foundation trust status which means it will become answerable to members of the public rather than the government.


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It involves ordinary people with an interest in health becoming members of the trust.

In a letter to the trust's chief executive Mark Halladay, Ipswich Borough councillor Judy Terry, responsible for health, said: “The council broadly welcomes the proposal to create a foundation trust if this will deliver the outcomes you have set out in your consultation document. Indeed, any proposals which make the NHS more accountable to local people are to be supported.

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“However, given that you are in effect a business providing services commissioned by others, the extent to which outcomes will improve as a result of this structural change is arguable.

"Implementation of the foundation trust will not be without its challenges. Since there was a clear admission during the presentation to councillors that services have been cut in a bid to balance the books, we are concerned that the increased bureaucracy which apparently comes with foundation status will further divert resources from frontline services.

“We feel that this needs clarification if the people of Ipswich are to benefit from such changes. We feel strongly that the proposed business model will not address these concerns.”

Mrs Terry added that the council, due to become a unitary authority in April 2009 and take on full responsibility for adult social care and children's services for Ipswich, would like to appoint a governor with the trust to represent the council.

The health trust was unavailable for comment.

N Do you want to see foundation trust status for the mental health trust? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Mental illness accounts for a third of all illness and 40per cent of all disability in Britain.

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