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‘Last chance’ mental health trust boss says some patients might wait longer as focus moves to those in most need

PUBLISHED: 13:17 28 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:17 28 November 2018

Antek Lejk, chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT). Photo: NSFT

Antek Lejk, chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT). Photo: NSFT

NSFT

The boss of the region’s failing mental health trust has admitted the organisation is on its “last chance” to get things right.

The Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk protest outside Hellesdon Hospital. Photo: Geraldine ScottThe Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk protest outside Hellesdon Hospital. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Antek Lejk, chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), made the concession on Wednesday, after it was revealed his trust had been judged unsafe and poorly led by inspectors for a third time.

When asked how long the trust could continue to fail, Mr Lejk, who took over at NSFT in May, said: “This is the last chance. Everybody wants this to succeed and we need to demonstrate quickly that things can change.”

But for some NSFT has already had too many chances. Paul Farmer, from mental health charity Mind, said: “When a trust fails and then fails again, you have to ask questions about what action needs to be taken to change that.”

Mr Lejk said those with a less severe need might need to wait longer while NSFT focused on helping those with the most serious conditions.

He said: “We want services which are provided for those who most need care. That may mean those who don’t have as much need wait a little longer.”

But he was reluctant to say money was behind long waiting times, where patients desperately needing care were waiting so long for help they harmed themselves or took overdoses during delays.

He said: “I don’t want to say it’s all because we’re underfunded, there are things to fix. But the money defines how much we can do.”

When asked whether there was enough funding to meet needs he added: “We will make the best of our resources.”

He said: “Some resources will need to be moved around. We need to re-focus our capacity on helping those most at risk. My biggest concern is in the past we have kept people waiting.

“What I don’t want people to think is that our staff will not look after them. I don’t want people to be scared they’re not going to be looked after.”

Mr Lejk, who has no plans to leave the trust and highlighted how staff had been praised in the report, said: “We’re going to really push clinical leadership, which means when the teams see something they need to change they can change it, they don’t have to wait for permission.”

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