Mp’s warning on Fermoy Unit’s future

Police release details of incident at the Fermoy Unit of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Tuesday. ENGANL00120130625154550
Police release details of incident at the Fermoy Unit of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Tuesday. ENGANL00120130625154550

Any moves to either close or cut services at a Lynn mental health unit would be a backward step for the area, the town’s MP has warned.

Last week, managers of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) said they had no plans to close the Fermoy Unit, despite concerns raised by campaigners.

However, they admitted they could not rule out moving beds out of the facility and warned that reforms were needed to improve services there.

But North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said he would oppose any moves to reduce the number of beds.

And he said: “The removal of any unit would be a retrograde step.”

Sir Henry has also welcomed the trust’s announcement of an independent inquiry to examine a rising trend of unexpected deaths within the trust, but called for clarity over its terms of reference.

The investigation was ordered after figures suggested the number of unexpected deaths within the trust’s facilities had more than doubled in just two years, though the trust says they did not give a complete picture.

But, despite announcing it was commissioning an independent inquiry last Thursday, the trust has not revealed either who will be carrying out the inquiry or what its terms of reference would be.

And Sir Henry said the scope of the investigation should not be limited.

He said: “I would urge them to be as comprehensive as possible and invite any families who have experienced these tragedies to come forward with information.

“It would be quite wrong to set any bar to such referrals.”

Sir Henry said he was also continuing to pursue government officials for a response to the campaign launched by South Wootton couple Jon and Ann Higgins for independent investigations to take place when an unexpected death occurs in a mental health setting.

The couple are calling for the measure to be imposed following the death of their son Christopher, who suffered a fatal head injury while in the care of the Fermoy Unit in 2013.