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New approach to mental health planned amid campaigners' lingering concerns

PUBLISHED: 13:22 23 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:22 23 July 2019

Protestors lobbying for a phychiatic walk-in centre in Cromer, outside the North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group meeting at the Aylsham Care Trust (ACT) centre. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Protestors lobbying for a phychiatic walk-in centre in Cromer, outside the North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group meeting at the Aylsham Care Trust (ACT) centre. Picture: Stuart Anderson

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Campaigners fighting for a new mental health care centre in Cromer have welcomed plans for improved services, but fear they will not go far enough.

Mental health campaigner Terry Skyrme outside the North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group meeting at the Aylsham Care Trust (ACT) centre. Picture: Stuart AndersonMental health campaigner Terry Skyrme outside the North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group meeting at the Aylsham Care Trust (ACT) centre. Picture: Stuart Anderson

About a dozen people bore banners and signs at a North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) meeting on Tuesday to protest what they see as a mental health crisis.

Answering a question from the protestors, CCG management team member Jocelyn Pike said they planned to trial a new "mental health primary care model" from October.

Ms Pike said the 'Prism' model, which had already been successful in Cambridgeshire, would see clusters of practices working together to offer 'wrap around' mental health services, which would also encompass factors such as education and housing.

But Terry Skyrme, a former social worker from Aldborough, said a dedicated walk-in centre would be better.

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Mr Skyme said: "We'll see - it's not as good as what we want. What concerns me is that there's no urgency about anything. They have a 10-year plan, but what good is that? How many more people will lose their lives?"

Although Mr Skyrme and supporters of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk have been active for more than six years, a number young men's suicides in Cromer in 2018 sparked their calls for an emergency psychiatric walk-in clinic in the town.

Ms Pike, who heads the CCG's primary care and mental health directorates, said the new wrap-around service would be trialled in "at least one" of north Norfolk's four emerging primary care networks, made up of medical practices - for example, there is one network covering Cromer, North Walsham, Aldborough and Mundesley.

Sheila Farrow, another campaigner, welcomed the plan for the new service, but said it did not go far enough.

She said: "It's what happens to the areas that aren't covered that I'm concerned about. You need the services where you are when you are mentally ill."

A spokesman for the Norfolk and Waveney CCGs dismissed the idea of a psychiatric walk-in centre in Cromer. He said: "None of our key providers - mental or physical health, primary or secondary care - has recommended this approach, and none of the national best practice examples identified in the development of our strategy pointed to this."

MORE: 'Three suicide attempts and 27 months on a waiting list': Brave 15-year-old shares her mental ill health struggle

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