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Mental health is ‘Cinderella of the NHS’, says under-fire service chief

PUBLISHED: 14:03 11 October 2018

Trust CEO Antek Lejk addresses the AGM Picture: ARCHANT

Trust CEO Antek Lejk addresses the AGM Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Mental health services have become the “Cinderella of the NHS” because they don’t have enough funding, the leader of an under-fire trust has said.

The AGM board panel featuring, amongst others, CEO Antek Lejk and cheif executive Gary Page Picture: ARCHANTThe AGM board panel featuring, amongst others, CEO Antek Lejk and cheif executive Gary Page Picture: ARCHANT

Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) chief executive Antek Lejk pledged to make improvements to the service in the region as campaigners lobbied its annual general meeting over its poor inspection ratings.

The trust has been placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), with a report in October 2017 saying it had “failed to address all serious concerns since 2014”.

It also faced a snap inspection in May, with the results - published in August - saying: “The breaches of regulation identified at our previous inspections had not all been resolved.”

Mr Lejk told Wednesday’s meeting a series of improvements have already been made, including a 25% reduction in unexplained deaths since last year.

Antek Lejk NSFT CEO with the trust's chair Gary Page Picture: ARCHANTAntek Lejk NSFT CEO with the trust's chair Gary Page Picture: ARCHANT

But he told the meeting: “Mental health has been the Cinderella of the NHS and still is.

“There is not enough money or enough staff in the NHS to do all the things we would like to do.

“There has been powerful change and many things following that.

“We have seen a shift in stigma towards mental health and we are a lot more knowledgeable about mental health problems in society.

“We can only deal with a portion of that with the resources we have.

“We will try and do our best and we know that we need to change and improve in that.”

The NSFT faces another CQC assessment in November, which will be a key indicator of whether the trust is turning the corner or still has more work to do.

But Mr Lejk said: “We aren’t sitting here waiting for the CQC report.

“We are constantly looking at the trust and looking at things to improve.”

However campaigners, who attended the meeting, said the NSFT’s performance has been “unacceptable”, adding: “They have had years and plenty of chances to turn mental health services around.”

Trust chairman Gary Page said: “The report from August reflects where the trust was at the time.

“Hopefully we have moved forward from then in the next report which we don’t expect to see until mid-November.”

Mr Page will be leaving his position in the new year.

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