Recruitment boost for Norfolk and Suffolk mental health trust

Gary Page, chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Gary Page, chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Adam Gretton Health correspondent adam.gretton@archant.co.uk
Thursday, April 17, 2014
6:30 AM

Mental health bosses have declared that more than half of their 400 vacancies will be filled by the summer following a recruitment campaign.

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Officials from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) revealed last month that they were looking at the option of hiring from overseas to fill positions caused by the organisation’s overhaul of services.

Members of the trust’s board of governors were yesterday told that 269 of 412 vacancies would be filled in the next three months and the NHS trust had opted against recruiting from Europe.

Gary Page, chairman, said there had been a “positive” response to a new recruitment campaign, which included press adverts and the organisation of recruitment days.

“We are having twice as many applicants for jobs than we did under the old way. By the end of June a substantial number of these vacancies will be filled. Local area teams and Monitor are looking very closely at these,” he said.

The mental health trust has reduced workforce numbers from 3,941 to 3,500 as part of a radical redesign of services to reduce its budget by 20pc by 2016.

However, yesterday’s meeting heard that a patient in Suffolk had complained that inpatient staffing levels were so low that they were unable to go on escorted leave.

Karen O’Sullivan, staff governor, said: “I do not think this is just a staffing issue - it is a patient dignity issue. The CQC (Care Quality Commission) will pick up on this potentially at visits.”

The trust advertised vacancies more widely than the NHS Jobs website. However, officials have ruled out recruiting from Europe after the option of hiring from Ireland and Portugal was looked at.

Mr Page added that he was keen to sit down and work with the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk to highlight the “imbalance” in mental health funding. He added that negative news about the NHS trust was affecting staff morale.

“We do not want the message to go out that the service is rubbish or unsafe. There are real pressure points in the trust, but it is not a common picture across the organisation.”

“We have made mistakes and I acknowledge that the voluntary redundancy programme was wrong. I’m not pretending we are perfect. The most effective way we can work is together,” he said.

What are your experiences of mental health services? Email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

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