MP hits out over Norfolk’s mental health staff shortage ‘scandal’

Dr Daniel Poulter has spoken out about staff shortages facing Norfolk's mental health trust

Dr Daniel Poulter has spoken out about staff shortages facing Norfolk's mental health trust - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

MPs have heard how the 'scandal' of staff shortages is crippling mental health care in Norfolk.

Conservative MP Dr Dan Poulter, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, outlined the struggles facing Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) to fill hundreds of vacant jobs.

Speaking during a debate in the House of Commons, Dr Poulter said: 'Staff shortages at the trust are one of the major challenges that need to be addressed. I don't use this word lightly, but it is a scandal there is such a shortage at NSFT.

'Without enough staff you can't expand services, without enough staff you can't offer safe services. When we talk about why the trust has struggled with CQC inspections it is because they do not have enough staff on the ground to deliver the care they would like to deliver.

'That is not necessarily the fault of the trust – it is constrained by some of the funding it is given.'

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Currently across the trust there are 125 full-time vacancies for band five mental health nurses, 35 for psychiatrists and one in five doctors roles are vacant.

No Norfolk MPs spoke during the debate but beforehand Norwich South MP Clive Lewis said: 'NSFT has been appallingly managed. We've had a series of plans with names that would make David Brent blush. Radical Redesign, Cost Improvement Plan – none of them have worked and things have got worse.

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'But even the best managers in the world would have struggled to grapple with the enormous elephant in the room. This government has systematically starved local mental health services of the cash it needs.

'Make no mistake, this is a local mental health crisis created in Downing Street. And it's desperately ill and vulnerable people in Norfolk and Suffolk who are paying the price.'

But health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said the trust would have to bid again to get any new government funds.

On recruitment she added: 'Central to dealing with this issue is leadership. I am pleased we will have a new chief executive, a new director of human resources and a new director of nursing. We are looking to them to lead the effort to recruit the staff.'

She added: 'This is not something that will be tackled overnight. Having a new leadership in place we can make progress.'

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