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New measures to fix 'broken' mental health services

PUBLISHED: 07:30 27 February 2019

Suffolk County Council's cabinet has backed the new mental health plan.Picture: ARCHANT

Suffolk County Council's cabinet has backed the new mental health plan.Picture: ARCHANT

Suffolk County Council's cabinet has backed a new vision for mental health provision in Suffolk - with a detailed plan for how new measures will be implemented due later this year.

Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffok County Council cabinet member for adult care, said the strategy would help fix a broken system. Picture: SCCBeccy Hopfensperger, Suffok County Council cabinet member for adult care, said the strategy would help fix a broken system. Picture: SCC

The county’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) outlined their mental health and emotional wellbeing strategies for the next decade in January, including a radical shake-up of primary care.

The plans proposed to offer GP surgeries a ‘named link worker’, access to specialist community clinics and recovery teams, access through schools and colleges to mental health support and a new crisis model.

A vision for the NHS 111 service to be the gateway to mental health support has also been spelled out.

The new strategy has already been hailed by the Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board, and on Tuesday, February 26 was formally backed by Suffolk County Council’s cabinet.

Conservative councillor Beccy Hopfensperger, cabinet member for adult care, said: “The importance of and urgency to review mental health has never been more critical,” and said the council and NHS services “must come together to fix a broken system”.

The fresh plan comes as the county’s failing mental health trust, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust received a third ‘inadequate’ rating by Care Quality Commission inspectors last November.

Eugene Stanton from the CCGs, said that the new four-part strategy would help capture people’s needs earlier, where most were treated.

“It’s not about traditional mental health and traditional NHS response and a clinical model of care,” he said.

“The strategy is timely and helpful given some of the challenges with Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust as our key mental health provider.

“Ninety percent of patients don’t go into secondary mental health services and are seen through primary care, so there’s a recognition that in terms of our future model we need to do much more to support primary care to be better equipped in the early intervention.”

A firm timeline on when an implementation plan would be published has not yet been made clear, but is expected later this year.

Liberal Democrat councillor Penny Otton welcomed the “huge amount of work” ongoing to tackle mental health, but said more was needed to tackle the deprivation which was one of the key causes of mental health problems.

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