New mental health boss pledges to look at number of beds and to get staff on board

Michael Scott, new chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust . Photo: Steve Adams

Michael Scott, new chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust . Photo: Steve Adams

The new boss of Norfolk and Suffolk's mental health trust has said he will look closely at plans to shut beds as he admitted that getting staff on board will be a priority in his new role.

Michael Scott will be taking up the position at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) by mid-2014.

Mr Scott is currently chief executive of Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C).

It is a challenging period for the mental health trust, which has cut 400 jobs as part of a radical redesign to reduce its budget by 20pc.

Mr Scott said: 'I will certainly want to look at the whole change programme and understand where it's working well and where it's caused difficulties for either users or staff.'

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With rising demand for mental health services and a tough financial climate, Mr Scott said it was important for the trust to do the best it could with the money it has, while he added he will be pressing for as much money as possible to be put into mental health.

Plans to cut the number of mental health beds have cause some concern and Mr Scott said: 'Sometimes people don't want to be admitted to an acute bed and therefore we have got community alternatives, such as crisis response teams and treatment teams.

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'Beds are not the only service but clearly we need to have the right number for Norfolk and Suffolk and it's something I will look at.'

Last month the 2013 NHS national staff survey results revealed more than half of mental health staff in Norfolk and Suffolk say they have suffered work-related stress in the last year.

Mr Scott said two key things he had helped to implement while at the community trust was getting staff on board and ensuring the trust worked more closely with partners, such as clinical commissioning groups and the county council.

He added: 'The key thing is about visibility, getting out to see staff and being seen and that goes for not just myself but also members of the board.

'But most importantly is turning listening into action. Staff will have some legitimate concerns and I want to hear those, but more importantly do something about them.'

Mr Scott said he also wanted to challenge the 'stigma' over treating people with mental health problems in the community.

He said: 'People with heart problems are cared for in the community and that's very much expected, but there's still societal expectation that people with mental heealth problems are treated in different ways.'

NSFT chairman Gary Page said: 'Among a host of excellent candidates, Michael was a clear first choice in terms of strong leadership, directly applicable experience, and an impressive track record in bringing together best practice in strategic engagement and partnership.

'Michael has played a key role in making the community trust the success it is today andI believe he is someone who will enable our trust to meet the demands of these challenging times.

'His practical knowledge will help us to meet our ambition to address very real financial constraints and improve staff morale, while keeping the patient at the heart of a redesigned service.'

Mr Scott, said: 'I am impressed with many of the trust's innovations with regard to dementia care and treating people in their own homes where practicable.

'More services and better care, in or near people's homes, is what patients tell us they want.'

He added that he wants to see even more integration between health and social care services, and stronger partnership working between mental health services and primary care to benefit patients.

He said: 'Mental health services play such an important role in our community and I know, from experience within my own family, how vital they can be to people in distress.'

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