Mental health trust takes back contract for more serious conditions at Norwich prison
PUBLISHED: 10:30 03 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:52 03 January 2019
Mental health services for those with more serious issues at a Norfolk prison have been taken back into NHS hands from private firm Virgin Care.
The region’s mental health trust Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) has been awarded the five-year contract, starting in April, to provide mental health services at Norwich prison.
NSFT was already providing improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) services, through Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney, at Norfolk’s three prisons – Bure, Norwich and Wayland.
Plus a liaison and diversion service (L&D), which identifies people who have mental health, learning disability, substance misuse or other vulnerabilities when they first come into contact with the criminal justice system as suspects, defendants or offenders.
But now they will also provide support for more serious mental disorders under the £3m a year deal.
NSFT chief executive Antek Lejk said: “This success is largely down to the excellent work already being carried out by our Secure Services, L&D and IAPT teams.
“It’s been a tough time for our staff and service users following publication of the CQC inspection report in November and I’m hoping this news will be the tonic they deserve. I’m thrilled that we’ve retained our prison IAPT services and Liaison and Diversion Service and will provide mental health services at Norwich Prison from the spring.
“For several years we’ve been successfully providing IAPT services in Norfolk’s prisons and a liaison and diversion service in both counties.
“The new contract will be managed by our secure services, which in its inspection report the CQC rated as good.”
Karen Clements, NSFT’s secure services manager, said: “We fully expect that Virgin’s staff there, who include mental health nurses, will transfer to our trust but we will also be taking on additional staff to service the contract.”
A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said they were “delighted that mental health care for prisoners is rightfully returning to the NHS.”
But they expressed concern that IAPT services were not inspected by the Care Quality Commission and said the fact the contract was awarded by NHS England, rather than local commissioning groups, was worrying.