Lincolnshire man grateful for local ‘warm space’, but fears week ahead

Lincolnshire man grateful for local ‘warm space’, but fears week ahead

Lincolnshire’s mental health staff have been burned out by mounting workloads and increasingly complex cases, sometimes involving aggressive patients, councilors have been told.

Lincolnshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday provided an update on the closure of the all-male psychiatric critical care service at Lincoln’s Hartsholme Center in November due to staff shortages.

Health chiefs at the Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust told members they hoped to learn more about the center’s future in March but that the closure “would not last more than 12 months”.

Sarah Connery, chief executive, said “the entire health and care sector is operating in really challenging circumstances right now” as staffing and demand issues collide with workers leaving the health sector.

A big problem, she said, is burnout, telling councillors: “People have been working flat out because of COVID.

“We have an increasing demand for our services and the people who come to support are becoming more and more complex.

“All our employees have to deal with this and for some it’s just too much and they switch to other industries.”

Operations manager Chris Higgins said there are more opportunities for employees as the mental health sector continues to expand.

“Once these opportunities become available, staff will have a choice of continuing to work 24-hour services with patients who are sometimes or fairly regularly aggressive and really difficult to deal with, or working in a community service where you do your be able to keep your own diary, rota, your own appointments.

“For many employees, this is a preferred way of working and fits better with their lifestyle.”

“Both staff and people have choices about where they want to work and what they want to do and many NHS staff have burned out and decided to look into the things that aren’t as emotionally demanding,” he added.

Sarah Connery said there were some “green shoots” on hiring and sales were starting to fall. She added that the Trust has invested “very heavily” in staff support.

Council members were assured that they would reopen a PICU within 12 months, although bosses could not commit to a timeline.

Sarah added, “We’ve fought really hard for our county psychiatric critical care unit… our goal is to continue to provide county psychiatric critical care for both men and women.”

She said bosses were still awaiting an offer of capital for a facility for women.

Chiefs said they were disappointed to have to make the decision.

Councilors raised concerns about further loss of services but were pleased with LPFT’s honesty about the closure.

Questions included how the Trust is dealing with burnout issues, how it plans to reverse hiring trends and how staff are being redeployed.

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