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Improved primary care mental health service

​The contract to deliver an enhanced mental health wellbeing service in east and west Suffolk has been awarded to Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

NSFT has been awarded a five-year contract to run the Suffolk Primary Care Mental Health Service from September, a new service which will build on the work of the current Suffolk Wellbeing Service, currently delivered by NSFT. It will do this by expanding the support and care available to people who are living with common mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and depression.

The contract was awarded by NHS West Suffolk and NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk clinical commissioning groups and Suffolk County Council, after a robust competitive tendering process.

In awarding the new mental health wellbeing contract, health commissioners were determined to ensure that as many people as possible are able to access the help they need as early as possible. By expanding the availability of evidence-based, early interventions it will enable people to be treated more quickly and more effectively in a community setting.

Dr John Hague, mental health lead for NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Having good mental health is an essential part of living a happy and healthy life. We are confident the new service will build on the good work already delivered by the Suffolk Wellbeing Service by expanding its reach and working more closely with voluntary and community organisations.

“A key feature of the service is that it will have a family-based approach and will now provide help for those aged under 16 years, and improved access to services will be achieved by closer working with GP practices.

“We will also see the service working closely with people who are living with more serious mental health conditions and who may previously have required treatment in a specialist mental health unit or hospital. Evidence shows that many people have a more effective recovery away from these environments and we want to increase the level of community-based interventions.

“Improving mental health services remains a priority for health commissioners and we expect the new service to have a positive effect on the lives of local people.”

Nesta Reeve, consultant clinical psychologist and clinical lead from NSFT said: “We are delighted that we have been selected to run this new-look service, which will offer easy access help to people of all ages.

“The service will be very innovative and creative. We will work proactively with employers, councils, education providers, public health and other NHS providers to focus on what they can do to help people have a good life, rather than waiting for them to become ill then providing treatment. We will also be treating people holistically – if someone is depressed because of social isolation, for example, we will look at how they increase their connections, such as by starting an evening class or joining a club.

“From the start of the service, we will co-produce interventions with our service users so that we know they are what people want and need. By working with our stakeholders, evaluating our data, and reviewing outcomes, we will be best placed to know what works and what doesn’t, which will allow us to put our resources to the best possible use.”

The new five-year contract will begin in September 2016, with a potential to extend for a further two years