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New mental health plan for Suffolk seeks radical reform

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Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich (6927303)
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich (6927303)

Experts behind a radical new mental health plan in Suffolk have said a widespread culture change is needed, and urged all health bosses to get behind the proposals.

Clinical commissioning groups outlined a fresh 10-year mental health and emotional wellbeing strategy during a recent health and wellbeing board to health chiefs across the county.

In it, a major shake-up has been proposed, which features a new crisis model involving home treatment teams and police triage, the creation of specialist community clinics and recovery teams being, and mental health link workers serving clusters of GP surgeries.

During the board meeting, health bosses issued a rallying call for all health organisations to back the plan.

Addressing the meeting, Peter Devlin, from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “What we are trying to do is to ensure that we enlist the support of everyone because we see this strategy and the focus it brings as a way to drive cultural change in terms of our understanding of meeting the needs of people experiencing emotional and mental health needs.

“We are asking you as leaders to gather around and support this strategy.

“We need to move away from some of the traditional organisational boundaries that have got in the way.”

One of the key proposals is to create a new option for NHS 111 services, which would be the point of contact for mental health and, crucially, would enlist trained mental health crisis staff to help support people.

Mr Devlin added: “We need to normalise mental health – we need to be brave enough and courageous enough to enter into conversations with people when they are opening up about mental health.”

The plan follows concerns over the county’s main mental health provider, NSFT, which has been placed in special measures for a third time by the Care Quality Commission.