Healthwatch Suffolk’s survey finds praise for NSFT mental health staff amid overall ‘negative sentiment’

Healthwatch chief executive Andy Yacoub

Healthwatch chief executive Andy Yacoub - Credit: Archant

A campaign seeking feedback from people using the region’s mental health trust found praise for staff despite overall negative comments.

Healthwatch Suffolk launched its Let’s Talk Campaign to gain views on the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) to be submitted for consideration in a major inspection carried out last month by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The campaign received 125 comments, the majority of which were of “negative sentiment”, focussing on concerns to do with “gaps in service provision”, poor communication and a lack of continuity of care.

There were, however, a number of positive comments, including praise for delivering “outstanding patient centred care and support” and staff “who really know what they’re talking about”.

Healthwatch stressed the briefing is not a full assessment of the performance of the NSFT, merely a statement of patient experience data recorded by the organisation.

It has been shared with the CQC to inform its recent inspection, which comes two years after inspectors placed NSFT into special measures.

Healthwatch chief executive, Andy Yacoub, said the report had been produced in an attempt to reach as wide an audience of NSFT patients and carers as possible.

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“From our interaction with service users/carers, we consider that most have a positive impression of trust staff and feel they are hardworking and conscientious,” he added.

“There are however too few staff and so they are stretched. By this we mean that demand for NSFT services is simply beyond the resources available; a responsibility that sits with local Clinical Commissioning Groups.

“That said, NSFT must remain patient focused in its approach and address issues concerning communication, both internal and with other stakeholders, and what appear to be disconnects between different parts of the trust.”

Alison Armstrong, NSFT director of operations, Suffolk, said the trust welcomed people sharing their experiences of its services as feedback could improve quality.

“We are taking steps to ensure that learning from the experiences of our service users and carers is shared across the trust and embedded into clinical practice,” she added.

“Although the response numbers in this report were relatively small compared to the 23,400 people we support each year in Suffolk, the findings highlight important areas for us to focus on.“

She said NSFT is hoping to work with Healthwatch to create informed surveys which could offer more detailed responses and data, to better inform service improvements.

Ms Armstrong also explained there had been a £4.6million increase in CCG funding to the trust, which will allow it to employ extra staff and enhance services.