An east of England mental health trust is no longer inadequate – but a chief patient advocate has warned that it “does not have a track record of sustaining positive change”. 

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has now been rated ‘Requires Improvement’.

The results of its latest inspection were published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on Friday. 

This is an improvement from the Trust’s previous rating of ‘Inadequate’, which was given following a surprise inspection in November and December of 2021. 

The trust has now been rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ in terms of safety, effectiveness, leadership and how responsive its services were for patients.  

Inspectors rated the trust as ‘Good’ in terms of how caring its staff were. 

Jayne Stevens is the chief officer of the Suffolk User Forum. The service strives to be a voice for mental health service users in the county.  

While she has praised the trust for this improvement, she warned that it continues to take patient feedback on board. 

She said: “It is positive that NSFT has made significant improvements in the last year, and that the caring skills of staff are recognised in this report.  

“Whilst welcoming these improvements, Suffolk User Forum (SUF) is acutely aware that NSFT does not have a track record of sustaining positive change. 

Mrs Stevens said: “Service user and family/parent carer feedback is essential for the ongoing scrutiny of the quality of services, understanding that people’s confidence in the trust’s improvements will take time to rebuild.”  

She said that it was critical for the Trust to address long-standing concerns from users and their families, including care for those in crisis, patient safety, and the availability of therapeutic interventions. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Stuart Richardson, chief executive of NSFT. Picture: NSFTStuart Richardson, chief executive of NSFT. Picture: NSFT (Image: NSFT)

Stuart Richardson, NSFT's chief executive, said he understood these fears, but has insisted this time will be different.

He said: "I honestly believe we have done things differently. We have not simply worked through a list of tasks - we have looked for the root causes of our issues.

"We have focussed hard on getting our house in order and now we are thinking about how we can make sure people who come into hospitals spent the shortest space of time possible and get the care they need."

The Trust’s rating for mental health crises remained the same at ‘Requires Improvement’.

Its child and adolescent mental health ward had improved and was rated ‘Good’, while its acute wards for adults were both rated ‘Requires Improvement’.