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Redesign of community mental health services underway

​A redesign of NSFT’s Central Adult Community mental health services has been launched in Norfolk in order to give local people greater access to services and encourage stronger links with GPs.

The major restructure will mean that the Trust will be able to offer GPs in central Norfolk and Norwich (City) direct links with locally-based and named mental health professionals.

With these mental health staff attending GP practices, they can then work together to provide more immediate assessment of people who may have complex mental health issues, and ensure a faster referral is made into appropriate secondary mental health services, when clinically required.

Debbie White, Director of Operations for NSFT said: “The community mental health teams will also have the ability to offer appointments in many GP practices rather than expect patients to travel to outpatient clinics further afield, so they can be treated closer to home and in more familiar surroundings.

“And in this way, our staff can really work hand in hand with the GPs and practice staff to provide the holistic services people need for both their physical and mental health needs.

“This is a really important step forward in continuing to improve our community services and increasing access for local people to the mental health support they might need.

“It is also important to be able to offer even more support in GP practices where people are most likely to attend for the first time with mental health problems.”

The newly restructured service will have three localities instead of the current two - City, North Norfolk, and South Norfolk. There will now be seven teams, instead of the existing four, working across the localities - three in City and two each in North and South Norfolk.

The individual teams will now cover a smaller geographical area, and therefore have a more focused caseload. An additional Long Term Treatment Team will offer extra support to all three localities.

The City teams will relocate from Hellesdon Hospital to a refurbished centre at the Trust’s Julian Hospital site, on Bowthorpe Road. They will then be able to offer more group sessions for patients and there will be access to a Consultant doctor on site if needed.

The new unit, which is expected to open in autumn / winter 2017, will also incorporate a treatment room which will enable the mental health staff to also better support and monitor the physical health needs of their patients.

The teams working in the North and South Norfolk will be based at Hellesdon and Gateway House, in Wymondham, respectively.

The teams will comprise assistant practitioners, occupational therapists and mental health nurses, with each locality having access to psychologists and consultant psychiatrists for their patients.  

And there have been three Clinical Nurse Specialists posts recruited to enable consultants and senior doctors to focus on the more complex patients and to improve access for service users needing support around medication.

Debbie White added: “Our GP colleagues told us this is what they need for their patients and we have done all we can to introduce this.”

The Trust’s Wellbeing services in Norfolk and Waveney, and in Suffolk, also provide support into GP practices for people with less complex mental health needs.