Norfolk and Suffolk’s troubled mental health trust is not improving quickly enough

PUBLISHED: 16:21 11 August 2015 | UPDATED: 08:19 12 August 2015

Hellesdon - Hellesdon Hospital.  Photo: Bill Smith

Hellesdon - Hellesdon Hospital. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2012

The region’s underfire mental health trust is not improving as quickly as hoped, according to a health watchdog’s leader for mental health.

A letter seen by the EDP and Evening News, says the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are expecting to see “more progress at a quicker pace” from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

The comments are made by Dr Paul Lelliott, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals (lead for mental health) about the trust which was put into special measures in February.

Campaigners welcomed his comments while the Unison’s NSFT spokesman Emma Corlett said she was not surprised to hear the news.

Jane Sayer, director of nursing, quality, and patient safety at the trust, said they recognised they needed to improve the care they provide and carefully manage their finances to a healthier position.

In his letter, sent to North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, Dr Lelliott said: “Our impression is the trust has not improved as quickly as we would have liked.

“We have engaged with Monitor (the Government’s health regulator) and the trust in discussions about the pace of change and how we would expect to see more progress at a quicker pace.”

Mr Lamb said: “I am encouraged by progress which has been made, but it is clear that there is still some way to go.

“It is vital that more progress is made.

“It is also critical that the commissioners in Norfolk follow the guidance from NHS England and treat mental health completely fairly - and equally with physical health in terms of funding.”

The mental health trust was placed into special measures in February.

Inspectors had concerns about the safety of services, staffing levels and leadership.

In June NSFT agreed to develop a financial recovery plan after an investigation by Monitor found that the trust had breached its licence to provide health care services on a sustainable basis by predicting a £9.4m deficit for 2015/16, and by not having an adequate recovery plan.

Emma Corlett said: “Absolutely nothing has been done to address the fact that the trust is massively under-resourced.”

A spokesman for Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said: “If the CQC indicates that the NHS bureaucracy is finally developing a sense of urgency about the crisis in mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk, we welcome it.

“This crisis has gone on for far too long.”

Jane Sayer said: “We are on the road to recovery and are working closely with our staff and Monitor to address the issues we face.

“We have worked hard to ensure that our Quality Improvement Plan is in place and we have been making good progress in many areas, which we are reporting to monthly assurance meetings chaired by Monitor, and attended by stakeholders including the CQC, Monitor, NHS England and the CCGs.”

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