Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has become the first NHS trust in the UK to introduce a blended service, bringing together low and medium secure beds for its female patients.
The work is part of the Trust’s £3.85 million redesign and redevelopment of all of its secure services, for both men and women, based across Norfolk and Suffolk,
The female service, now based at Whitlingham Ward, in Hellesdon Hospital, near Norwich, provides care to women from the East of England who have an acute mental health need, and who have also come into contact with the criminal justice system.
The majority of patients in NSFT’s secure services come to a unit from a court, prison or detention centre, and will remain in supported care as they serve their criminal sentence. But they need NHS support for their mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis, severe depression or personality disorder.
NSFT’s secure units offer assessment, NHS treatment and rehabilitation, commissioned by NHS England, working hand in hand with the Ministry of Justice and other criminal justice agencies.
“Our new-look blended female service is unique in the UK,” said Karen Clements, NSFT’s Locality Manager for Secure Services. “Although other trusts have introduced medium and high blended services, we are the first to join our low and medium wards.
“This will bring great benefits to our patients by ensuring they can receive safe, high quality care in a less restrictive environment. It will also focus heavily on creating good relationships between staff and service users, which in turn will help diffuse potentially difficult situations without the need for physical interventions. All of this is good news for our staff and our patients, and it is vital when you consider that many of our patients remain with us for a number of years.”
Karen explained that it will also enable NSFT to flex its bed use and manage demand for its secure services more effectively.
“There has traditionally been greater need for low secure beds rather than medium security, with the latter at times sitting empty and the former oversubscribed. And we have less demand for female beds than male overall. So in this way we are not only improving the environment for patients and staff, but we are also using NHS resources more wisely with an innovative new approach and service,” she added.
As part of the change there has been a £895,000 extension and refurbishment project, which has seen an additional four en-suite rooms added to Whitlingham Ward - previously a 12-bed low secure unit only - taking the total number of female secure beds in the Trust to 16.
The eight-bed Acle Ward – formerly a medium secure all-female unit, based at the Norvic Clinic, in Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich - has been decommissioned as a female unit, and Norvic will now be an all-male secure unit.
Major works are also taking place to redevelop and refurbish the facilities at the Norvic, including Acle Ward. Extension and refurbishment work is also underway at Foxhall House, the Trust’s an all-male secure unit in Ipswich.
As part of its overarching secure services transformation, the Trust’s secure beds will increase from 80 to 82, and facilities will be brought up to date and made fit for purpose.
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