A leading psychiatric body has alerted the health watchdog over their fears that a redesign of mental health services in Suffolk could lead to ‘substandard care’.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has raised concerns with the Care Quality Commission about Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) plans to cut about 400 jobs and develop more services in the community through Integrated Delivery Teams.
The move is part of a bid to save £40 million from its budget by 2016.
Their concerns follow a meeting in Bury St Edmunds called by the college and attended by more than 20 consultant psychiatrists from the NSFT.
In a letter to the Commission and NHS England, the college’s President Professor Sue Bailey said: “The college believes that if the Trust proceeds then they will be entering a territory of substandard care and patient safety is very likely to be compromised.”
She added that ‘in keeping with this college’s commitment both pre and post the Francis report I have a duty of care to inform you of what we believe to be a matter of threat to patient safety’.
In a separate move, they have also informed the General Medical Council of their concerns about the ‘future appropriateness’ of psychiatric trainees being placed within the Trust.
Dr Rob Harwood, regional consultant chairman for the BMA in the East, said 30 per cent of consultant doctors were to be made redundant as part of the plans.
He said: “It looks unlikely you can manage with a third fewer senior medical staff and deliver the same quality of service.”
Debbie White, Suffolk director of operations at the NSFT, said ‘patient safety will be the primary focus’ throughout implementing Integrated Delivery Teams.
The timetable for implementation has been revised following feedback from staff consultation.
She said: “The final staff numbers in Suffolk will not be reduced by anywhere near the 30 per cent quoted.
“Fewer than 10 clinical staff (of over 400) have been put at risk of redundancy by moving to the IDT structure.
“There will be a reduction of six consultant posts in Suffolk, five of which are currently vacant.”
Addressing the College’s letter, she said: “We were formally assessed by Health Education East last week and our training approval has been agreed with conditions for a year.
“This means we have been judged as meeting the General Medical Council standards.”