Norfolk's mental health service put in special measures
PUBLISHED: 08:43 19 February 2015 | UPDATED: 15:25 19 February 2015
Norfolk and Suffolk's troubled mental health service today became the first mental health foundation trust in the country to be put into special measures.
Monitor, the health sector regulator, placed the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) in special measures following a damning report from watchdog the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC).
The CQC rated the trust as “inadequate” earlier this month and found serious problems, including concerns about the safety of services, staffing levels and leadership.
Special measures will see the appointment of an “improvement director” to provide expertise and hold the trust to account, and arranging a partnership with a high-performing trust.
Monitor has also imposed a new condition on NSFT’s licence, enabling the regulator to take further action, such as replacing members of the trust’s leadership team, if the improvements are not made swiftly.
The NSFT has also agreed an action plan of improvements.
Katherine Cawley, regional director at Monitor, said: “Patients in Norfolk and Suffolk deserve to receive the highest possible care, and so the failings that the CQC has identified in the trust’s services are disappointing.
“We are pleased that the trust has already started to address some of the issues raised by the CQC, but much more needs to be done.
“That’s why we have put Norfolk and Suffolk into special measures, to ensure that it gets the extra help and support it needs to make the improvements that are required.
“We will continue to work closely with the trust and monitor its progress in making the improvements that patients in Norfolk and Suffolk expect to see.”
It is understood NSFT’s chief executive, Michael Scott, emailed staff on Wednesday to tell them about the special measures announcement.
Staff were praised as being caring in the CQC report which was published two weeks ago, but patient safety and leadership were both key areas of concern – rated as inadequate – and the chief inspector of hospitals concluded the trust should be placed into special measures.
Trusts tend to be in special measures for 12 months.
Mr Scott said today: “Although disappointing, it is not a surprise to us, coming as it does after the CQC’s recommendations were made in January.
“But as we made clear then, we recognise we need to improve the care we provide and we need to carefully manage our finances to a healthier position.
“We will achieve this by working closely with our staff and Monitor to address the issues we face.
“We have already started down the road to recovery and we welcome the additional support we’ll get through this process. We will be learning from other organisations and every single member of staff at this trust will have a part to play in getting us back on track.”
The trust’s Board of Governors is considering its response, which will be published on the website page at www.nsft.nhs.uk/About-us/Pages/Board-of-Governors.aspx
When the CQC report was published, Mr Scott described it as a turning-point, adding the trust understood where it had gone wrong and was working to put it right.
He added: “We are under new management, the new team is bedding in, and there is no complacency on our part about the need to continue to deliver improvements.”
A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said: “NSFT becoming the first mental health trust to be put into special measures was inevitable following the damning CQC inspection and the financial black hole.
“Our main concern is that service users and frontline staff are not made to pay the price of the NSFT Board’s wasted millions with further cuts to already inadequate services.
“Commissioners need to agree a unified mental health strategy with NSFT and provide realistic long-term funding which has not been the case thus far. We share with Monitor a common aim: the quickest possible turnaround of NSFT for the benefit of patients.”