Mental health trust says improvements have already been made after critical Hellesdon Hospital inspection

A senior nurse said improvements had already been made at Hellesdon Hospital after the health watchdog found a mental health trust to be failing in two key areas.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors called on Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) to improve after the hospital in Norwich was found to be failing in the care and welfare of patients and the privacy, dignity and independence of patients was not always respected.

The mental health trust has been ordered to submit an action plan by the end of the week after it emerged that some people had to wait up to two months for a community assessment.

Jane Sayer, director of nursing, quality and patient safety for NSFT, said the trust had already put in place measures to improve services at Hellesdon Hospital following the inspection on January 8 and 9.

'Although one issue is described as having 'minor' impact and the other 'moderate', we

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consider these concerns to be vital and have taken urgent steps to put them right.'

'We have taken action to ensure the right care is not just agreed with the patient, but is also shown on records to be agreed. We are also planning improvements to ward environments. We have already taken steps to recruit more mental health nurses, work extra weekend shifts and monitor more closely the waiting times and experience of our service users.'

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The CQC said the major reorganisation of NSFT had 'adversely affected' patient care.

The trust, which is in the midst of a radical redesign of services to reduce its budget by 20pc, was found to be meeting standards in the way it cooperates with other providers, the way it handles complaints, and safeguards people who use services from abuse.

Dr Sayer added: 'The CQC's report, on the whole, paints a positive picture of services at Hellesdon Hospital but it does raise two important issues on which we have already taken action. This CQC report helps us make further, important improvements.'

Emma Corlett, NSFT branch Unison spokesman, said union members had raised concerns about patient care with the CQC as far back as January 2013. She added that mental health needed additional government funding.

'The conclusions of this report are sadly entirely expected. They raise the exact same concerns that Unison members working on the front-line have themselves been raising for months. This is exactly why two weeks ago Unison raised a formal grievance with the chief executive and called for an immediate halt to the cuts and reorganisation of services so that a full assessment of the true impact of changes made so far can be made.'

'The report cites some excellent examples of a caring and compassionate group of staff, doing their best to maintain a good service in the midst of cuts and reorganisation that has left them without sufficient resources to do their job.'

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