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Citizens Advice Bureau offers expertise at Northgate Hospital

An innovative new partnership means mental health patients at Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth are able to receive expert advice on a number of issues.

Thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous benefactor, full time adviser, Alison Warner, from Norfolk Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB), is now working at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) hospital in Great Yarmouth.

Steve Cheshire, Chief Executive at Norfolk CAB, said: “Our research shows that more than 80 per cent of mental health patients have debt issues and often return to the community without these debts and underlying social issues being resolved.

“If patients leave without these practical problems sorted, the pressure can lead to their return to hospital. This comes at a high cost to the patient and their family and, of course, to the taxpayer. These patients may need advice and assistance not available in the inpatient unit. Therefore, we are delighted to be able to provide this assistance by placing a trained advisor within Northgate Hospital, mental health unit.”

The pilot project, which will run for nine months, will see Alison Warner, who is the advisor at Northgate Hospital, and was previously a social worker in Norfolk, offering advice on a variety of issues including debt and housing.

Alison said: “I will work alongside NSFT staff to deliver full advice support to these men and women from around Norfolk whose problems may have contributed to their mental health issues. We hope to deliver the support they need both before and after their release from the mental health unit.”

Norfolk CAB boss Steve Cheshire said: “We are delighted to be able to work in partnership with NSFT staff in Great Yarmouth and others across their network. We hope this project can help to reduce the cost to society and the NHS, as it will mean patients may need to access mental health services less frequently.

“If successful, we hope to secure continued funding for the advisor to continue beyond the nine month pilot.”

Debbie White, Director of Operations (Norfolk and Waveney) at NSFT, said: “We are delighted that the Citizen’s Advice Bureau has chosen Northgate Hospital to trial this project. It will give our patients access to much-needed advice that will prove beneficial in helping to resolve any anxieties that may have contributed to their mental health issues.”​