Norwich MP calls on Prime Minister to intervene over secret mental health report

Clive Lewis asks his first question to the Prime Minister

Clive Lewis asks his first question to the Prime Minister - Credit: Archant

Prime Minister David Cameron has been urged to demand the publication of a highly-critical report outlining the views of staff at the region's mental health service.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis used his first outing at Prime Minister's question time at lunchtime today to urge the release of the report into the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) which he said raised 'serious questions about patient safety and care, due to cuts to services'.

He told MPs that the 'duty of candour should apply equally to NHS management as it does to NHS frontline staff' and urged Mr Cameron to call for its publication.

Mr Cameron did not explicitly back Mr Lewis' call, but said there were two things needed - 'to uncover bad practice and turn it around and then back that up with the resources the NHS needs.'

The NSFT has refused to release the dossier arguing it is not in the public interest and claiming that doing so would stop workers from raising issues in future.

The mental health trust was placed in special measures in February and is also under investigation by Monitor over a deterioration in its financial performance.

It comes after the Trust restructured the service to save £44m in the last four years, which union bosses claim has led to a major deterioration in the service the public receives.

Following the launch of a Norwich-based Adult Central Service Line in 2013, which involved a new structure and the loss of jobs, the trust quizzed its staff over the impact the move has had. A report was then written based on those responses.

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Using the Freedom of Information Act, the EDP asked for a copy of the subsequent report titled 'Understanding the Impact of Trust Service Strategy on staff working in the Central Adult Service Line', but that has been refused.

Chief executive Michael Scott, refused the request on the basis that it claimed disclosure would be likely to inhibit 'the free and frank provision of advice or the free and frank provision exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation'.

Mr Lewis decided to use his first question to the Prime Minister to ask about the report after asking constituents to suggest what he should ask.

After his plea to 'crowdsource' the question, he was contacted by a constituent.

He said: 'I wanted the people of Norwich South to tell me what is important to them when I asked my first question to the Prime Minister – after all my place in the House of Commons belongs to them.

'My office was flooded with e-mails, phone calls and Facebook messages on anything from the Hunting Act to austerity politics. But the future of our health service came up time and time again.

'One caller, who wished to remain anonymous, told me about this report and when I read it, I was shocked to see how devastating the government cuts have been to the operation of the Trust.

'One of my roles as an MP is to push for further transparency and accountability, especially when it is in the public interest to do so. That this report hasn't been able to be seen by the public, or properly scrutinised, is shocking.

'I will continue to hold the Prime Minister and his government to account on releasing this damning report.'

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