‘Postcode lottery’ for psychosis mental health support in Suffolk and Norfolk
14:58 27 January 2017
How fast you receive treatment after experiencing psychosis will soon depend on whether you live in Norfolk or Suffolk.
An emerging postcode lottery is set to affect mental health patients after health chiefs secured funding for improved treatment in Norfolk, but not in Suffolk.
Mental health bosses welcomed the boost for Norfolk and Waveney, but the disparity for the rest of Suffolk is “unacceptable”, according to Suffolk MP Dan Poulter.
In April 2016, a new target was introduced nationally to ensure psychosis patients receive treatment within two weeks of referral.
But Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services in our region, was only funded to achieve this for patients aged between 14-35 in the two counties.
However from April 1, 50% of patients up to the age of 65 should also be treated within two weeks after NSFT received around £1.3m of funding from Norfolk and Waveney’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
Agreement with Suffolk’s two CCGs has not yet been reached, meaning patients aged between 35-65 in the county, excluding Waveney, could wait longer for treatment.
Dr Poulter MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said: “It is unacceptable that there will be a two-tier service in Norfolk and Suffolk. It’s very poor that the commissioners are unable to match the commitment to expand this service as they have in Norfolk and Waveney.”
NHS England says early intervention in psychosis can “significantly” reduce the rate of relapse, risk of suicide, and number of hospital admissions.
It is understood NSFT chiefs and the CCGs will try to reach an agreement next month.
The Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk CCGs said providing early “effective help” for mental health is at the “heart” at their strategy.
A spokesman added: “We continue to work with NSFT on the further development of early intervention in psychosis services.
“Despite the financial constraints, funding on mental health services in east and west Suffolk has risen by £10 million in the last three years, rising from £93 million in 2014/15 to £103 million this year.