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More people to benefit as specialist service expands

​More people with suspected first episode of psychosis will be able to access treatment quickly when a specialist service provided by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) expands next month.

The Early Intervention in Psychosis Service will extend its reach to care for people from an age range of 14 to 35 to people aged up to 65 from 1 April after receiving an additional £1.2m in funding from Norfolk’s five clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

It is expected that the service will now see an increase of around 25% patients per year with the extended service.

NSFT is now recruiting an additional 18 whole time equivalent staff, including doctors, admin staff and therapists, to deliver the expanded service across Norfolk and Waveney. It will offer a range of help to reduce the impact of the symptoms of psychosis, such as intensive case manager support, psychological therapies, medication and family support, as well as referral on to partner agencies who can make sure that patients’ social needs, such as employment and housing, are met.

Psychosis causes people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them. Symptoms can include hallucinations or delusions; people with psychosis can also feel paranoid, confused, irritable or depressed.

In line with national standards, NSFT aims to see at least half of patients who are experiencing psychosis for the first time within two weeks of a referral from their GP so that treatment can start quickly, which improves the chance of making a good recovery.

Dr Hannah Nearney, Consultant Psychiatrist with NSFT, said: “This additional funding from our commissioners will make a real difference to people with psychosis in Norfolk, particularly those aged 35 – 65 by making sure they receive the specialist help they need quickly. This can have a big impact on their recovery while significantly reducing the rate of relapse, risk of suicide and the number of times they may need to go into hospital.

“We are working hard to recruit the additional staff which we need to deliver this enhanced service and look forward to rolling it out to more patients from 1 April.”

Clive Rennie, from the NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in central Norfolk and Waveney, said: “Norfolk CCGs and NSFT have been working very closely together to ensure that service delivery and funding for the extension of the Early Intervention in Psychosis service is in place to serve more people, a wider age range and is targeted to meet national standards.

“We have been able to make this funding available at a time when all NHS finances are very significantly stretched. This therefore represents a substantial investment in a service that will improve many people's lives.”

Previously, patients aged between 35 and 65 with suspected psychosis would be referred to NSFT’s adult service which does not offer a specialist Early Intervention in Psychosis approach.