Mental health patients in Bury St Edmunds raise funding fears as trust chief tells of £18m cuts

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Mental health patients have raised fears over the future of funding for their care at a public meeting in Bury St Edmunds.

Workwise, a charity which helps people with mental health issues by giving them a job and training, held its annual meeting on Friday

Workwise open showcase.       Doreen Smith using a stitching machine.

Workwise open showcase. Doreen Smith using a stitching machine.

Aidan Thomas, chief executive of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, the organisation in charge of mental health services across the two counties, outlined how it needs to make around £18m in cuts from Suffolk’s £90m budget, over the next three to four years.

That includes the loss of around 500 posts from the 4,400 staff – but Aiden said the organisation has been running at a high vacancy rate and hopes to avoid redundancies.

Part of the financial savings will be through the creation of a new assessment team – which Mr Thomas said will be better for patients who would only have to be assessed once rather than the repeat assessements carried out at present.

But concerns were raised by several Workwise clients over the loss of funding for places through social care.

“I’m scared. I’m absolutely scared for the future because I keep being told it is the last lot of funding I am going to get,” said one Workwise client called Steve.

Mr Thomas explained that because his trust is funded by the Government while social care funding comes from Suffolk County Council, he can only press on them the various concerns that were raised.

He admitted the situation was ‘frustrating’ but stopped short of calling for England to follow the Northern Ireland model where health and social care are both funded directly by the Government.