Healthwatch Suffolk and Norfolk launch joint ‘Let’s Talk’ mental health campaign to encourage public feedback on services

Healthwatch Suffolk.

Healthwatch Suffolk. - Credit: Archant

Healthwatch Suffolk has teamed up with the organisation’s Norfolk branch in calling for a wider range of public feedback on the region’s mental health services.

Both want to work with service users and their families to gauge what people think of services provided by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust (NSFT) as part of their new ‘Let’s Talk’ campaign.

They aim to collect a range of feedback, which will help them build a picture of how people are being treated within the services.

Healthwatch Suffolk chief executive Andy Yacoub said: “We now have the opportunity to work with our partners in Norfolk to understand how users of mental health services provided by the trust feel about them.

“It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and by speaking to the people directly affected by such services we will hopefully see more clearly the effectiveness of them.

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“We want people to know that feeding back is the only way we can truly ensure the patient voice is heard loud and clear as the trust continues its plans to improve services.”

The two branches want to hear from service users, professionals and, in line with the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week, people who have a relationship with service users such as family members, carers or neighbours.

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Mr Yacoub added: “We guarantee that the experiences people share with us during this short campaign will be used to support the trust where it is doing well and also to hold it to account where service is poor.”

The feedback will also be used to inform an upcoming Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection of the service, which is set to take place in early July 2016.

CQC will use the feedback collected to help it make judgements about the standard of care being provided by NSFT and whether it has improved since it placed the trust into special measures last year.

The trust’s director of operations, Debbie White, said: “It is normal practice for organisations such as Healthwatch to approach members of the public to gain their thoughts about services ahead of a CQC inspection, and this is something we welcome. We would encourage people to engage with the consultation.

“To give our Trust a helpful snapshot of where we need to continue to focus and improve, we held a mock CQC inspection over four days in December last year. The report from the mock inspection highlighted that our Trust has made a number of significant improvements in areas where our formal CQC Report raised concerns, such as reducing the use of restrictive practices, improving the patient environment to improve safety, removing ligature points and updating facilities, moving from a number of different patient record systems to one electronic system “Lorenzo” and improvements in the rates of physical health assessments.

“The mock inspection has helped us to ensure that we undertook a review of progress and identified areas where improvements were still to be made to ensure we provide the best possible care for our service users and patients.

“Other improvements we have made include us making steady progress in recruiting to clinical vacancies as well as introducing values and behaviours with our staff and service users.

“We have also substantially lowered the number of patients placed outside of Norfolk and Suffolk. This is despite demand for inpatient care continuing to rise.

Ms White added: “In Suffolk, we have won a new Wellbeing Service contract. From the autumn, the new service will build on the work of the current Suffolk Wellbeing Service by expanding the support and care available to people who are living with common mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and depression.”

To share your views simply visit the Healthwatch Suffolk website, where you can easily and anonymously rate and review the care you or someone you know has received.

Alternatively, contact 01449 703949 or email to have your say with a member of the Healthwatch team.

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