Campaign group says Norfolk and Suffolk mental health trust needs more than new leadership to turn it around

Michael Scott, CEO of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Michael Scott, CEO of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

Mental health campaigners have called on the region's mental health trust to put patients first, as its chief executive announced his retirement.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) boss Michael Scott announced he was retiring with immediate effect on Thursday.It comes as the results of the trust's latest Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection are due in the next couple of weeks.

But a spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said new management may not be enough.

He said: 'We have long been calling for a new board and management culture at NSFT which puts patients and carers first and foremost and genuinely engages with front line staff.

'Michael Scott's retirement could represent the beginning of an opportunity to turn around mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk. But new management is not enough, mental health services have to be properly resourced as well as competently managed. Our politicians need to make sure that local commissioners and NHS England need to step up to provide enough money, beds and staff for decent mental health services.

'For service users, carers and staff to have any faith in the leadership of the new interim chief executive of NSFT, we need Julie Cave to accept the CQC's findings in its last report.

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'We fear Michael Scott's departure precedes the publication of a new and devastating CQC report in the next few days. We do not believe that Michael Scott's departure alone will be sufficient to stop the rot and the NHS and government needs to commit to doing everything to put matters right at NSFT: the people of Norfolk and Suffolk have been let down and ignored for far too long.'

Mr Scott said: 'The role of chief executive is one where there is always important work to lead, challenge to overcome and improvements to drive ahead, and I feel the time is now right for a new leader to take on that mantle.

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'I am proud of what has been achieved by the dedicated staff at NSFT over the past three-and-a-half years.

'I would like to thank my colleagues across health and social care for their collective hard work, and for the fact that every day they do the very best job they can to support people.'

•Analysis: Bed numbers remain huge problem

The mess Michael Scott was charged with fixing in our mental health trust was not of his making.

His predecessor had left the NSFT in the middle of a 'radical redesign' of services which led to cuts in bed numbers and staff.

One of the trust's biggest problems has been a lack of beds, but its leaders have been unable to solve that problem.

It has lost a quarter of its beds since 2012 and there have been warnings from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) about bed numbers.

This newspaper has also repeatedly reported on a lack of beds which has seen the number of patients sent miles away for treatment surge.

The trust has been promising to get a grip on this since 2014 - it has repeatedly failed.

The CQC inspectors are rumoured to be unimpressed with their last visit - their findings are due shortly.

The new chief executive's first task will be to act on every finding in the new CQC report.

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