More than 140 doctors from the region's NHS mental health trust have written to its chairman saying they "lack confidence" in the organisation's leadership.

The letter, which has been leaked to the media, claims that doctors at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are carrying huge workloads and that services are "unsafe".

It has been signed by the trust's medical staffing committee, and raises "serious concerns" to chairwoman Zoe Billingham and requests an urgent meeting with her.

The committee is understood to represent the views of more than 140 doctors.

The letter concludes: "The substantive medical staff body lacks confidence in the Executive Board to resolve the plight of NSFT. We are calling for a major change in the operation and performance of the Trust."

Mrs Billingham, who began her role in January this year, has responded to the letter offering an immediate meeting.

Eastern Daily Press: Zoe Billingham, chair of NSFTZoe Billingham, chair of NSFT (Image: Geoff Pugh Photography Limited)

The document goes into detail about the concerns the doctors have about the Trust's executive board, which is led by chief executive Stuart Richardson.

It says: "The clinical services are unable to provide good basic care and are unsafe.

"There is a general dysfunction with perpetual changes of key staff in executive posts and ever increasing layers of management.

"Major decisions are frequently made by a handful of people at an executive level without clinical consultation.

"Doctors are by and large used as clinical workhorses. Many carrying huge workloads and holding unacceptable clinical risks.

“There is widespread demoralisation of the medical staff with regular resignations.

"Many cite NSFT as the reason for leaving."

The letter adds that there are "serious concerns for the state of the trust" and an "urgent meeting”' has been called with the trust’s chairman.

In response, the deputy chief executive of the NSFT said: "We share the concerns raised by our medical colleagues.

"We value their views and are committed to working closely with them as we continue to make improvements on behalf of our service users and their families.

"One of our new chief medical officer's top priorities is to engage fully with our medical staff to make sure they are given every opportunity to make a valuable contribution to these improvements."

The medical staff who signed the letter say their concerns are broader than the Care Quality Commission report earlier this year, which saw the trust downgraded to a rating of 'inadequate' - the fourth time in a decade that it has had special measures imposed on it.

They quote “endemic issues which show little sign of resolving despite various transformation strategies”.

They hope “closer engagement with senior medical leaders can lead to better outcomes for the organisation and their patients".

The letter comes after the inquest into the death of Elliot Harris concluded earlier this week.

Mr Harris died in the trust's Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth in April 2020.

The cause of his death remains a mystery, but the 11-day inquest highlighted a number of issues relating to his care, including a "culture" at the hospital whereby records of check-ups were either filled in retrospectively - sometimes by days - or even falsified.

The trust dismissed three members of staff after internally investigating the incident and insisted changes have been made as a result of it.