Are mental health services in the East improving?

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Mental Health Trust for Norfolk and Suffolk became the first in England to be placed in special measures in February 2015.

Over the past four years it's made savings of £44 million pounds with a further 36 million pounds of savings to come and many patients say they're missing the vital services they once relied on.

Sophie Liddament’s friend in Norfolk was eventually admitted to hospital for treatment but she says it took five suicide attempts in one week to get her there.

"The last one left her fighting for her life. I was like I can't do this anymore. You're just going to go and I'm going to have to stay here and it's a terrifying thought when you go to your friend's house and you don't know what you're going to find there."

Sophie Liddament

Anne Humphrys who lives in Suffolk with her teenage daughter who has a complex mental health issue also describes a lack of support for her and their family, having to turn to A&E at her local hospital, for help due to what she describes as inadequate community-based services.

Anne Humphrys has a daughter with complex mental health issues Credit: ITV News Anglia

"She had to sit for several hours in the main accident and emergency area. That's terrifying for any young person but when a young person is experiencing a mental health crisis what that means is it makes that crisis worse. It heightens their anxiety and Bethan was sitting there saying it was making her want to end her life even more. "

Anne Humphrys

Campaigners claim there continues to be a bed shortage, although the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust says it has reduced the number of patients being sent out of the area for treatment in the last year.

There was more bad news for the Trust at the beginning of the year when it was reported they had the highest number of unexpected deaths in the country. An investigation into those figures will report back in May.

Terry Skyrme, Mental health campaigner Credit: ITV News Anglia

"I think they are trying and there's pockets of really good work but they haven't got the funding and the clinical commissioning groups are not coming up with the funding. NHS England are not coming up with the funding so they're really struggling to provide what we call a safe, comprehensive service."

Terry Skyrme, Mental health campaigner

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust says it has spent the last year laying the foundations for a new and safe service.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Credit: ITV News Anglia

“We’ve got more nurses than ever before. We’ve put two and a half million pounds worth of new nursing staff onto the wards, almost a million pounds into community services and those staff are staying with us. We’ve recruited something like 13 new doctors 250 new nurses across our Trust. “

Michael Scott, Chief Executive, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

NHS England announced at the end of last year that there will be extra funding to help young people with mental health problems. Norfolk and Waveney will receive an additional £1.9m every year for child and adolescent mental health services. Young people in Southend, Essex and Thurrock will benefit from an extra £3.3 million per year and in East and West Suffolk they’ll have an extra £6 million over the next five years.

If you need support and advice urgently but are not a Trust service user you can call:

Samaritans 08457 90 90 90

ChildLine 0800 1111

More information can be found at:

Sophie Liddament's mental health campaign can be found at Facebook