Doctors spell out reconfiguration objections
19 February 2013
Doctors have set out their widespread concern and opposition to sweeping changes planned for a mental health trust.
A specially established Norfolk and Suffolk councils joint scrutiny committee has been told that clinicians at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust want the process of cuts and service redesign to be slowed down to protect patient safety.
The plans would involve a 33 per cent reduction in consultant posts and a 40 per cent cut in staff, associate specialist and specialty doctor posts by 2016.
Trust local negotiating committee chair Chris Jones and trust medical advisory group vice-chair Marlies Jansen provided written and oral evidence to the committee, which met last week.
Dr Jansen’s evidence recognises that the trust’s service redesign is planned over a four-year period, but says community mental health services are due to face the full 20 per cent of cuts and redesign in just four and a half months’ time.
She writes: ‘This is unsafe and unwise. As clinicians, we strongly advise for implementation … to be slowed down, to allow careful planning and monitoring.’
Threat to rural services
Dr Jansen fears the plans will mean patients will have less contact with doctors, and in rural areas staff will be so overstretched that home visits will no longer be feasible.
She says: ‘Psychiatrists will no longer have the time to travel to outlying clinics. This will seriously affect the access to care for our most isolated and vulnerable patients, and result in less contact between mental health professionals and GPs.’
Dr Jansen adds: ‘It is essential that clinician concerns are acted upon and that the trust is given the time and finances to develop and monitor a sustainable cost-improvement programme.’
The LNC’s evidence, also submitted to the trust consultation on the proposals, warns that both ‘quantity and quality of service delivery will decline, and this will result in significant risks to patient safety’.
The joint committee will scrutinise the quality of the clinical evidence underlying the proposals, and the extent to which the proposals are in the interests of the health service in the two counties.
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