East Anglian mental health trust in special measures following critical report

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An under-fire mental health trust operating in Norfolk and Suffolk has been placed into special measures following a critical report from watchdogs.

Monitor, the regulator for health services in the UK, has today confirmed the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust will be placed under closer supervision to rectify ‘serious problems’ identified by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

A report published by the CQC following an inspection of the trust in October found serious failings in patient safety and staff morale.

Chief executive of the trust, Michael Scott, said: “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.”

Chief Executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, Annie Topping, said: “This outcome will give additional focus to the Trust to concentrate on further improving its patient services.

“It is imperative that commissioners and the Trust itself take extraordinary steps to deliver the services that people in Norfolk and Suffolk deserve and this is what the reality of being placed in special measures must mean.”

Ms Topping said Healthwatch Suffolk had made a number of recommendations to the trust following its recent report about service users’ experiences.

“The Trust should use these and incorporate them into its ongoing journey to improve the services,” she added.

Following the publication of the inspection report last month the CQC’s Deputy Inspector of Hospitals, Paul Lelliott, said it had found ‘a number of serious problems’ including the quality of patient care and low staff morale.

Failures in the trust’s management structure and the environmental safety of its services were also highlighted.

Special measures will lead to the appointment of an improvement director for the trust and the development an action plan to address the identified issues.

A spokesman for the Campaign to Save NHS Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said the group was glad the trust’s problems had been recognised.

“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,” he said.

“Our main concern is that service users and frontline staff are not made to pay the price.

“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.”