On 30th March I made a formal complaint to Norfolk County Council, Norfolk PCT and Gt Yarmouth and Waveney PCT about this issue. I have heard nothing at all from the latter two but yesterday (breaching the time limits in their complaints policy) I actually had something of a response from Norfolk CC. This reads:
Dear Mr. Cox
I have been asked to respond to your complaint concerning the lack of mental health content within the above strategy. I am happy to write to you formally or if you prefer,a conversation to explain the reasons behind the strategy.
Let me first reassure you, the strategy does not exclude people with mental health needs.My services work with many people who have a mental health diagnosis.
The aim of the strategy was to ensure people with physical and sensory loss had a process to be heard, have their say and help us plan and identify services that are needed for this group of people. Older people have a strategy as do people with learning difficulties, mental health and children.
The Local authority wanted to ensure all people with specific needs had a process to be able to get their own issues understood. Therefore if someone was Deaf or blind but also had another disability both strategies could be used to ensure multiple needs could be addressed.
I hope this explains the reasons behind the approach and look forward to your comments.
It is also reassuring to know that people are looking at this strategy and taking an interest.
Perhaps for future reference, the Local Authority could consider putting an explanation at the beginning of each strategy document to make its purpose more clear. I will make this suggestion at the next board meeting if you feel that would be helpful.
County Manager ,Sensory Support Unit
Carrow House , level 5
301 Kings Street, Norwich
In a hurry, I read this quickly and made a quick reply:
Hello Mr Bowerbank.
At last a response! Thank you Mr Bowerbank.
I would like to have a formal statement and a copy of the mental health strategy please.
As an immediate reply to what you tell me I would have to say, as one directly involved with the NCODP activities, no one from there has given even a hint of equal strategies for the groups you mention.
I also have to say if you are creating silos as you describe, this is contrary to national strategies a and policies which all call for full integration - not segregation.
I look forward to hearing from you further on this matter.
After reading Mr Bowerbank's mail carefully today, I sent him this e mail:
Hello again Mr Bowerbank.
Having been able read your e mail of yesterday more closely, I see you have said:
"Let me first reassure you, the strategy does not exclude people with mental health needs." (my emboldening).
My difficulty with that statement is that we, the NCODP group of service users who volunteered for the Joint Strategy, were all told , right at the outset, categorically by Bill Albert and Peter DeOude of NCODP, who were leading the Joint Strategy workshops, that mental health was NOT included in the scheme. This was later confirmed by Mark Harrison who is not only the Ceo of NCODP but also the Chair of the Joint Strategy Board for people with Physical and Sensory Disabilities from whence the Strategy came.
Can you please clarify the position.