Charity’s concerns that mental health redesign is leaving ‘patients confused’

Val Beresford from Workwise in Bury.
Val Beresford from Workwise in Bury.
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Bosses at a leading Bury St Edmunds disability charity have warned that a redesign of mental health services is leaving ‘patients confused and staff with low morale’.

Val Beresford, chief executive of Workwise, which helps those with mental health problens back into work, has hit out at the ‘lack of communication’ by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust on its overhaul.

The organisation is cutting about 400 jobs and developing more services in the community in a bid to save £40 million from its budget by 2016.

Mrs Beresford said their clients are under the care of a designated clinical care co-ordinator and it is ‘vital’ regular contact is maintained between the two.

She said: “We haven’t been told if anybody has had a change of care co-ordinator. I haven’t been given any telephone numbers. There’s no communication whatsoever - it’s a scandal. We’ve got staff actually ringing around trying to find out what’s happening.”

One client heard about Workwise’s merger with the Papworth Trust and tried to call her care co-ordintaor but the ‘phone just kept ringing’. Mrs Beresford explained: “They had moved but hadn’t told anybody.”

On the impact on clients, she said: “It’s the anxiety. People don’t know what to do or where to go.”

She said that the redesign is also leaving clinicians at the Trust with ‘very low morale’.

Mrs Beresford said they are already having to deal with delays due to the one pathway guidelines, where clients are referred to the charity via a clinician and can no longer apply directly.

She added: “We fear all these changes, and the confusion they are causing, will just cause further delays.”

Debbie White, director of operations for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust in Suffolk, said they have been ‘very clear from the outset that patient safety will be the primary focus’ throughout the redesign.

She said: ““All staff in Suffolk, including consultants and care co-ordinators, have been informed of their roles in this new structure.

All patients have been written to advising them of what is changing; the nature of the transition plan means there are a very small number of patients experiencing any change in care co-ordinator.

“Where patients do experience a change in the team providing their care, it will have been carefully considered by staff. This will be discussed with the patient on an individual basis.”

She added that she is ‘happy’ to discuss with Workwise directly any concerns they have.