Pressure mounting on failing mental health trust top team
PUBLISHED: 17:59 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:59 13 October 2017
Pressure is mounting on the executive directors of the region’s mental health trust to step aside.
It comes after Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) was plunged into special measures yesterday (Friday), as inspectors found issues first raised three years ago had not been addressed.
Norwich South MP Clive Lewis went further to demand a full scale independent inquiry into the failings of the trust in the last few years. He said: “This was the first mental health trust to go into special measures in 2014 and remains the only one.”
But campaigners, charities and the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) all questioned whether it was time for the board to go.
Chief executive Julie Cave said there were no plans to change the top team. She said: “The board will do everything it possibly can to get us out of special measures.”
MORE: Not enough staff, not enough beds - inspectors brand region’s mental health trust inadequate again
However, Dr Adrian James, registrar of the RCPsych, said: “It’s scandalous that the apparent leadership problems which have bedevilled this trust since its inception are still to be addressed. I can’t help thinking some of this is going to need new people from outside.”
Labour county councillor Emma Corlett said: “If I was in that position I would be reflecting on if I could hold on to it.”
This was echoed by the NHS Norfolk Action Group. Jan McLachlan, from the group, said: “Because of the cuts to funding, we can’t afford the level of incompetence shown by the board.”
A spokesman from the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, added: “Perhaps the lesson to be learned is the NSFT board and management team is incapable of improvement and that now is the time for replacement.”
Mark Harrison, from charity Equal Lives, branded the board “incompetent”.
MORE: Mental health trust to focus on core services as inspectors find it inadequate
North Norfolk MP, and former Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb, said new blood was needed at the trust - but not until things had stabilised.
“I don’t think mass resignations is what is needed right now,” he said.
But Mr Lewis, went further to say an independent review was needed - regardless of who was on the board. He called for more beds to be made available in Norfolk and more staff for crisis teams.
“How on earth have we arrived here from 2014? There has to be much more done.”
‘I am desperate for change’
A woman who started a petition calling for major improvements at the trust said she was not surprised by the result of the CQC inspection.
Emily Luccarini’s mother Julie made multiple suicide attempts and went missing for a month whilst under NSFT’s care.
The 26-year-old, from Haverhill, said when she called the trust’s crisis team one Friday for her mother, they were told they would be called back on the Monday. But over the weekend her mother went missing, and was found living in a Mildenhall Travelodge a month later.
In March this year Julie tried to take her own life. She survived, but is now permanently brain damaged and needs 24 hour care. Emily said: “I am desperate for changes to be made to NSFT as I would never want other families to go through what I have.”
Her petition, with more than 22,000 signatures, and can be found at bit.ly/2kLtlSp
What the CQC said
The CQC said: “The board had failed to address all the serious concerns that had been reported to them since 2014.
“The breaches of regulation identified at our previous inspections had not been resolved.
“The board did not ensure that the services provided by the trust were safe.
“They had not taken action to ensure that unsafe environments were made safe and promoted the dignity of patients.
“They had not ensured that there were sufficient staff to meet patients’ needs safely.
They had not ensured that unsafe seclusion and restrictive practices were minimised or eradicated.
“The trust was not safe, effective or responsive at all services. The board needed to take further and more timely action to address areas of improvement.”
They added: “The board needed to ensure that their decisions were implemented and brought about positive improvement.”
‘We are here to get the job done’
This newspaper contacted the six executive directors individually - plus the board chairman - to ask whether they were planning on stepping down, and why. The group replied collectively through the trust’s communications team.
Their statement said: “We, as members of the Board at NSFT, have decided we wish to answer this as a collective team.
“We accept the findings in the CQC report and we take full responsibility. We have not made enough significant improvements over the past year and for that we apologise to staff, service users, and carers. They are the absolute priority and, at this time, we must and will remain focused.
“We are here to get the job done and we have every confidence in our frontline staff and managers that we can achieve this. It will be hard work, but we are all motivated by doing what is best for our patients. That is our responsibility today and our commitment to our staff, our service users and carers.”