Mental health staff in Norfolk are put under high pressure due to heavy caseloads

  • Mental health chiefs have insisted they plan to tackle the high caseload in Norfolk after learning over 400 patients were waiting to be assigned to a community worker./images/mentalhealth.jpg

    After officials from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust have raised concerns about pressures on staff after patients were waiting too long to see a mental health worker in central Norfolk.

    The NHS trust's board of directors has said that higher than predicted demand for adult community services in Norwich and Norfolk with low staffing levels has resulted in 379 cases out of 2,579 awaiting to be allocated a named worker, reports the EDP 24.

    The meeting found that demand for services was 140pc more than planned when the trust's redesign of services was formed and the area had 20pc less staff than originally planned due to a voluntary redundancy programme.

    Directors were told that the mental health trust had secured an extra £500,000 from Clinical Commissioning Groups in Norfolk to help hire new staff to meet demand.

    Stuart Smith, non-executive director, said he was concerned about the emotional consequences of high caseloads on staff and patients. "There is a great burden of unallocated cases and they are working as hard as possible to support people. I get the feeling that staff are at the end of their tether. Are they seeing light at the end of the tunnel or are they still feeling at the end of their tether? I am pleased to see improvement, but 2015 feels like a long way away and that has made me nervous."

    However, Graham Creelman, deputy chairman, said the 379 figure was "painting a picture that is worse than it is" because some of the unallocated cases were waiting for an ADHD appointment, had recently been referred, or were waiting to be transferred to a named worker.

    Gary Page, chairman, added: "This is the most stressed part of the service across the entire trust. It is clear there is a plan in place to deal with recruitment and we know there is progress there. We are focusing on people who are ready to be discharged. We should not be lowering the bar for people that are suitable for discharge. People need to feel that there is light at the end of the tunnel and my sense is that I am not getting that feeling with my discussions with staff."

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