One in eight people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will use the mental health and community services provided by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) every year, according to chief executive Tracy Dowling.
And less than a year in the job she is enthused by the services on offer and the work done by the “fabulous staff.”
Those services include the pioneering First Response Service which after seven months saw the average number of people visiting accident and emergency departments drop from 764 a month to 599, with patients able to find help by ringing 111 and selecting option 2.
There are new safe havens for people experiencing a mental health crisis, a new service to support children and young people and work is being done both to help GPs become more knowledgeable on mental health and on community projects such as early supportive discharge for people with strokes.
And the Cavell Centre in Bretton Gate, where this interview took place, is a modern facility for people needing help, with spacious bedrooms, a common room area with a TV and Wi-Fi.
One area which has already seen improvements is waiting times, which in 2015 were over a year to access some non-emergency services. Ms Dowling said: “We aim for all cases to be assessed within 18 weeks and, if people have to wait, for them to be regularly reviewed whilst they are waiting and directed to services in the community that can support the families and the children while they are waiting.
“We send very few patients out of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough for in-patient treatment, and where we do that it’s because they have a specialist need we can’t meet here.”
Funding, though, is an issue. With more money, Ms Dowling said she would like to make sure there are mental health services at A&E for 24 hours a day.
She explained: “Cambridgeshire is a financially challenged health system.
“What’s happening within the NHS is that costs of delivering services and demand from patients for services is increasing at a rate that is faster than the rate of increases of funding. So there’s a gap that’s widening year on year.”