What next for the troubled mental health trust?
PUBLISHED: 00:01 28 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:26 28 November 2018
Archant Norfolk 2017
Norwich South MP, Labour’s Clive Lewis, has led calls for the region’s mental health trust to be put into special administration - a classification kept strictly for the very worst of health organisations.
It comes as the latest inspection into Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) judged it inadequate for the third time, meaning it stays in special measures.
But for some that was not enough and they wanted to see more action taken.
A NHS trust can be put into special administration - also known as a failure regime - when there have been repeated failures, such as those at NSFT.
It is a last resort and has only been used twice since its creation in 2009 - at Mid Staffs and South London.
Mr Lewis said: “This has become a national disgrace. Staff whistleblowers and service user and family concerns have been ignored. Since 2014, bereaved families have continued to receive similarly worded letters promising ‘lessons will be learned’.
“Unless we change course, I know exactly what’s coming next. Senior trust board members will mouth the same platitudes about lessons being learnt and plans for change - even though those same people have long track records of failure in various parts of the local NHS. We’ll get more improvement directors, improvement summits and other ineffective nonsense with titles that would make David Brent blush.
“The CQC has the power to put the trust into special administration and get rid of this board full of people spending entire careers going in and out of the revolving door of local mental health and NHS failure.
“No more. No more unexplained deaths and grieving families. No more terrified and vulnerable people being sent hundreds of miles away for treatment. No more staff putting in tears unable to do the job they came into the NHS to do. It’s time to start again.”
If the trust was put into special administration, it would be the first mental health trust to be put on that path.
Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk and former health minister said it was “deeply disturbing” and also questions the trust’s future.
He said: “For me it raises the question of the future of this organisation, which has been troubled from the start since the merger with Norfolk and Suffolk.
“I think they bit off more than they could chew.
“We’ve given them over a year to get their act together and they have failed. We now need to seriously consider what happens next and that involves potentially breaking up the trust.”
Norwich North MP, Conservative Chloe Smith, said: “This is deeply concerning. The report is crystal clear that the leadership have not done enough. I know from constituents that some have experienced the waiting list problems shown in this report, which is a serious concern alongside inadequate safety. I’m worried about low morale in staff even though they are rightly praised for their hard work and kindness.
“This is not about money, it’s about leadership which isn’t good enough. Taxpayers’ money is going into mental health and other NHS mental health trusts around the country do far better for patients, so there should be no doubt that responsibility lies with this trust, not at anyone else’s door.”
Richard Bacon, Conservative MP for South Norfolk said: “This report is a cause for serious concern. The CQC report from last year identified that the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust needed to change.
“Although in this new report there is some good news, with staff described as compassionate and genuinely caring – with some even giving up their free time for the benefit of patients – it also makes clear that staff feel let down by senior managers and that the required improvements are not taking place fast enough.
“I will be seeking a meeting with ministers to discuss what further steps need to be taken.”
While Sir Henry Bellingham, Conservative MP for North West Norfolk said: “I am deeply disappointed by the report, I have seen some of the sites first hand and thought they were turning a corner.
“Chatterton House and the Fermoy Centre (King’s Lynn) are a big investment and they will be state of the art, but this is a critical report and improvements haven’t been made.
“NHS Improvement need to work along side the trust and see the commitment of the staff, and the majority are doing an overwhelmingly suburb job and doing their level best.”
Dr Kathy McLean, executive medical director and chief operating officer at NHS Improvement, said: “The CQC’s report makes it clear that improvements at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust have not been made at the pace that we would want to see, and that patients deserve.
“Strong and accountable leadership is vital to safe and effective patient care, and it is therefore encouraging that the trust has a new substantive executive team in place. This will be central to taking the necessary improvements forward.
“In addition, we have agreed with the trust several immediate actions to improve patient safety and address the CQC’s concerns, and we expect to see rapid progress in the coming weeks.
“Remaining in special measures means the trust will continue to have access to a range of intensive support, including the expertise of an improvement director, an associate improvement director and a buddying relationship with the East London NHS Foundation Trust.
“We will work closely with the trust, the CQC and the wider system to ensure that the right package of support is in place to deliver sustainable improvements.”