Data shows mental health trust has cut doctors and nurses - but chief disputes the figures

Figures show there are 20.3% fewer doctors at NSFT. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Figures show there are 20.3% fewer doctors at NSFT. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

New data has revealed the number of doctors at the region’s mental health trust has shrunk over the last five years - whilst the number of managers has risen.

Photo: James Bass.

Photo: James Bass. - Credit: Evening News � 2009

Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSIC) showed in July 2017 there were 20.3% fewer doctors at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) than in July 2012. But there were 52.7% more managers.

But NSFT chief executive Julie Cave disputed the data.

HSIC data shows over the five year period the number of consultants dropped by 16.7%, specialty and associate specialist numbers fell by 36.3%, and the total number of junior doctors was 13.5% down.

The figures showed 20.7% fewer qualified nurses, midwives or health visitors. Meanwhile, the number of managers jumped from 82 in 2012, to 125 in 2017.

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However, Mrs Cave said NSFT data showed between March 2013 and March 2017, a 2.13% decrease in doctors, a 15% drop in nurses and a 23.5% drop in managers. She also said the number of unregistered clinical support staff has increased by 6%.

Mrs Cave said: “The classifications of NHS staffing have changed over time so trying to draw direct comparisons over lengthy periods from raw data does not necessarily reflect a true picture. The data on the website is covered with the following caveat: ‘It has a provisional status as the data may change slightly over time where trusts make updates to their live operational systems’. We had a number of senior clinical leadership roles classified as managers. We have reviewed our data to ensure consistency with the latest national definitions.”

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She added the figures would not include bank or agency workers, or doctors on mental health placements from other trusts.

However, a spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “Since 2013, we have repeatedly warned about the increasing number of managers employed at NSFT as mental health services have been savagely cut. But the NHS payroll information is worse than we could have imagined. The NHS managers responsible for mental health services seems to believe that doctors, nurses and patients are inconvenient costs and that the solution to a problem is always another manager or to cut front line staffing and services.”

It comes as nationally, the Health Foundation found although the overall NHS workforce increased by 2% in the year to April 2017, managers had the highest rate of growth with a 4.3% rise.

Across the country there was a continued growth in hospital-based doctors but the number of GPs and nurses plummeted.

But Mrs Cave said the roles needed in mental health were different. She said: “Mental health and physical health trusts cannot be compared like-for-like.

“NHS Coding does not always fit mental health job roles. In mental health the key clinical roles are not necessarily nurses or doctors roles. A large number of staff are psychologists and psychotherapists, social workers, for example, who may be neither a nurse nor a doctor.

“Traditional nursing functions are increasingly successfully undertaken now by an expanding range of other professional and qualified staff. This frees up the nurses and doctors for work which specifically requires their skills.”

She pointed to roles such as allied health professionals, who Mrs Cave said are “vital in providing appropriate care to our service users”.

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