Ipswich: Low staffing levels at Woodlands unit leaves mental health bosses struggling to cope

Woodlands unit

Woodlands unit - Credit: Archant

A recruitment campaign has been stepped up at a mental health unit after it emerged staffing levels were so low that some patients were not able to take their escorted leave.

Bosses at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust say they are now working hard to rectify the situation at Ipswich Hospital-based Woodlands unit.

It has included the appointment of full time and temporary staff members.

The problems were laid bare at a trust meeting for users of the service, when bosses at the site admitted that they were “struggling” with shortages of staff and that agencies had not been able to fill the staffing void.

Concerns were also raised at the meeting over the affect that the shortages had on patients and their escorted leave.

Debbie White, director of operations for Suffolk at the trust, said: “Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has experienced some issues related to staffing levels at its Woodlands unit in Ipswich, however we are working hard to resolve these.

“Patient safety and continuity of service on our wards must be our top priority and there have therefore been isolated cases where a patient’s escorted leave has been rearranged.

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“We are actively recruiting to a number of vacancies, as well as working with provider NHS Professionals to increase the level of temporary staff at Woodlands.”

News of recruitment at the unit has come as the foundation trust announced it would be relaunching its user and carer scrutiny groups in east and west Suffolk.

The idea of the monthly meetings is to give people the chance to have their say on mental health services.

Bosses at the trust hope more people will be encouraged to attend so they can hear their views.

Jane Chambers, service user and the chair of the group, said: “It is important that those who either have or care for someone with mental health issues are involved in the way mental health services are delivered by NHS, council and third sector organisations.”

Are you pleased to see more staff being taken on at the unit? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email to newsroom@archant.co.uk.

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