Race against time to fix problems at mental health trust as key inspection looms
- Credit: NSFT
Further concerns have been raised about the region’s troubled mental health trust just weeks before a crunch inspection.
In October, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) was rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and placed into special measures.
This means the watchdog had to keep the trust under close scrutiny to ensure problems were being fixed.
Last month, the CQC carried out an unannounced interim visit to NSFT ahead of its full inspection this September – where inspectors will decide whether to remove the trust from special measures.
In papers that will be presented to NSFT directors tomorrow, chief executive Antek Lejk outlined initial feedback from the CQC, and revealed the trust had been issued a further Section 29A warning notice due to concerns over the quality of healthcare.
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The watchdog identified a number of areas where the trust must improve before the next inspection.
These include practices around the seclusion and tranqualisation of patients, and the carrying out of risk assessments.
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The CQC also raised concerns about long waiting times for mental health care, and about poor staffing levels in community services.
However, Mr Lejk reported inspectors noted areas of progress in areas such as mandatory training and appraisal rates, the removal of points at which patients could hang themselves, and separating mixed gender accommodation.
Mr Lejk wrote: “We have pulled together a concentrated programme of work to drive through rapid progress in some key areas before the next visit takes place.
“We want to be able to show noticeable progress to demonstrate that we are making real improvements for our service users and carers.”
Reacting to the findings, Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and an NHS doctor, said: “There is clearly still work to do to ensure that NSFT is in the best possible position to care for its patients. I would expect that it will remain in special measures for a little longer and we need to support the new leadership team in their work to deliver better and safer care.”
Dr Poulter said he would continue to push for additional funding for mental health services and for the Government to do more to support the retention and recruitment of clinical staff in Suffolk.
A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said: “We are bitterly disappointed that the mental health trust has still not addressed the significant problems in recruitment and retention of staff which itself is a consequence of lack of investment in mental health services over many years.
“Service users continue to be transported long distances due to lack of ward staff and people in the community do not receive the help which they should expect.”