Report on Health Scrutiny committee Jan 14th 2014

The Health Scrutiny committee is made up of councillors from Suffolk County Council and each of the 7 District and Borough councils in the County. The papers are available here

At its last meeting there were three major items on the agenda:

  • Radical redesign of Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk

Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust has hit the headlines in recent days as the union Unison has lodged an official complaint about the “radical reorganisation” of services which is currently underway.

The Trust provides a range of mental health services including alcohol treatment, learning disability and eating disorder services. Due to growing demand and financial constraints – it has to make savings of £40m by 2016 – the Trust has had to look in a radical way at how it delivers its services.

In a story in the East Anglian Daily Times in late December Chairman of the Trust Gary Page commented on the changes:

“Gary Page did accept that some of the changes introduced by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust had caused unforeseen problems – and were being partially reversed.”

Health Scrutiny committee members were very concerned about this radical redesign of services when they first looked at the issue last year. The new bodies responsible for commissioning mental health services in Suffolk are also keeping a close watch on the performance of the Mental Health Trust. Here are links to some of the recent stories, including a website dedicated to highlighting the problems, which is run by a group of volunteers.

East Anglian Daily Times


Suffolk and Norfolk  website campaigning against changes

  • Suffolk Community Healthcare

On October 1st 2012 Serco took over as the new provider of community healthcare services in Suffolk. This is a three year contract. The contract is managed by the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning group (CCG) and West Suffolk CCG. These two bodies are the successors to NHS Suffolk, which was abolished in April 2013.

When Health Scrutiny first looked, in 2012, at the changes to be brought in by the new provider of community health services there were a number of concerns about reductions in the number of district nurses and occupational therapists. Serco seem to have taken these concerns on board and performance looks better – at least on paper!

The community equipment service is also experiencing problems with delays in providing equipment. This service is jointly provided by Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Community Health. We hope that the delays are now being addressed.

A representative from the West Suffolk CCG commented that Serco had taken over a poorly performing service. However  in December 2013 Suffolk Community Healthcare had met all its response time targets and views of patients were positive. Staff morale is still low – as it is across the rest of the NHS. Suffolk Community Healthcare employ 924 people and have now partnered with Bromley Healthcare, a social enterprise which is highly rated by staff.

  • Proposals for Liver Resection Services

NHS England (East Anglia) has been working on a project to implement a single specialist surgical centre for patients with liver metastases (secondary cancer of the liver). This centre would cover people living in Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and north Bedfordshire.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommends that a liver metastases service should cover a population base of at least 2 million people. This is to ensure that sufficient expertise is built up by the team involved. Reorganisation of such services is always controversial as it means that patients (and their relatives) have to travel further for treatment.

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