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Suffolk MP hits out over NHS staff shortage ‘scandal’

PUBLISHED: 21:16 02 May 2018

Dr Dan Poulter speaking in the House of Commons. Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONS

Dr Dan Poulter speaking in the House of Commons. Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONS

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MPs have heard how the “scandal” of staff shortages is crippling mental health care in Suffolk.

Julie Cave, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT)'s outgoing chief executive. Picture: NSFTJulie Cave, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT)'s outgoing chief executive. Picture: NSFT

MPs have heard how the “scandal” of staff shortages is crippling mental health care in Suffolk.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter outlined the struggles Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) is experiencing to fill hundreds of vacant jobs.

Speaking during a debate in the House of Commons, Dr Poulter said: “Staff shortages at the trust are one of the major challenges that need to be addressed. I don’t use this word lightly, but it is a scandal there is such a shortage at NSFT. Without enough staff you can’t expand services, without enough staff you can’t offer safe services. When we talk about why the trust has struggled with CQC inspections it is because they do not have enough staff on the ground to deliver the care they would like to deliver. That is not necessarily the fault of the trust – it is constrained by some of the funding it is given.”

Dr Poulter outlined some of the roles where the trust is struggling for staff – including:

• Band five registered mental health nurses, where there are 125 full-time vacancies;

• Psychiatrists, where there are 35 unfilled full-time roles;

• Doctors, where one in five roles are not filled.

Dr Poulter added: “What I would ask the minister to do is look what has worked overseas – and put financial incentives in place to encourage doctors and nurses to come to the East of England.

“Because at the moment it is patients that are paying the price.”

But health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said the trust would have to bid to get any new government funds.

On recruitment, she added: “Central to dealing with this issue is leadership. I am pleased that we will have a new chief executive in place, a new director of human resources and a new director of nursing. We are looking to them to lead the effort to recruit the staff that are necessary.

“But there are also additional actions the trust is taking to deal with this.

“For example, hot spot areas have been identified and as he has eluded to this will include premium payments.”

She added: “This is not something that will be tackled overnight.”

NSFT’s outgoing chief executive, Julie Cave, has previously said the trust was “totally committed” to making the improvements needed to deliver safe and high quality care.

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