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'We want our fair share of mental health funding,' says trust chairman

PUBLISHED: 09:23 27 February 2015

Gary Page, chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust

Gary Page, chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust

Bosses at the trust running mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk have pledged to fight for their "fair share" of funding as they bid to turn round the fortunes of the organisation.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) is hoping for additional funds of up to £8million for the next financial year, which comes on the back of a promised cash increase nationally.

Negotiations are currently taking place between the trust, which was officially placed into special measures last week, and clinical commissioning groups in both counties for 2015/16.

But at a public meeting in Ipswich yesterday, board members voiced concern that the full funding they expect “may not materialise”.

Gary Page, chairman of the trust, said that mental health had not had its fair share of funding in the past and that the organisation wants “every penny” it should get.

He added: “We are prepared to go to arbitration if we don’t get the fair share we are entitled to.”

Following the meeting, a spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk group said: “It is good to see the trust are taking a hard line on receiving a fair share of funding for mental health services as a result of our consistent pressure on the issue.”

The Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk CCGs is among the majority of groups nationally to get an increase in funding, however it is not known yet how this will be placed.

A spokesman for the Suffolk CCGs said: “The CCG is currently in the process of agreeing plans with its providers, no decision on additional funding has been made. Final plans will be published as part of the CCG’s Operational Plan in March of this year.”

Finance bosses also revealed at yesterday’s meeting, held at IP-City Centre in Bath Street, that additional income has been received which should help lead to the trust ending the year on a deficit of about £3.7m.

Andrew Hopkins, director of finance, said issues such as out of area placements were beginning to improve, as well as the spend on temporary pay.

Temporary staff expenditure had reduced from £1.95m in January compared to £2.10m in December, the meeting was told. The total spend for the year to date, however, stands at more than £20.9m.

Mr Hopkins added: “Temporary pay is the one area I would like to see the (downward) trend continue.”

The board of directors meeting came as big changes continue to happen within the trust.

After a damning Care Quality Commission visit and being placed in special measures, Monitor announced earlier this week that Alan Yates, who has 27 years’ experience in the NHS, was being appointed as improvement director.

The trust’s plan of action to make improvements was discussed at the meeting, but officials stressed that work on it needs to keep going so continuous improvements can be made.

Mr Page added: “We will work on it and that is what the plan is here to fix.”

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