Mental health survey’s ‘damning’ findings to be used to hold Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust to account
The findings of a “damning” survey highlighting widespread perceptions of failings in Suffolk’s mental health services will be used to hold providers to account, campaigners say.
Mental health campaigners yesterday agreed on a dozen key messages to raise with the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust (NSFT) in a bid to improve on the numerous shortcomings revealed in survey responses from service users.
The Stepping Forward survey results presented in Ipswich at the Suffolk User Forum event was intended to show how far the NSFT had improved in the view of its service users after being placed in special measures earlier this year.
Although the trust has agreed measures to improve since its Care Quality Commission inspection, the survey results indicate much more is still to be done with responses highlighting delays in accessing care, failures to provide key documents and poor engagement with service users.
More than a third of respondents said it took the NSFT more than a month to contact them after being referred by their GP; half of those referred from an A&E department did not receive a courtesy call within four days and a further third of respondents were not aware of their care plan.
Campaigner Jane Basham, who attended the event, said the findings came as no surprise to those working with people trying to access mental health.
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“Its findings are extremely damning and it’s time now for the trust to take action,” she added. “No more words, no more forums, no more consultations – let’s see some action.”
The main findings of the survey, produced and analysed by Healthwatch Suffolk, were used to guide themes for workshop discussions, from which a dozen key points for improvement were agreed.
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The points, which will be fed back to the NSFT, Suffolk County Council and clinical commissioning groups, included calls for service users and their carers to have a more central role in deciding on the care they received.
Although it was acknowledged the 119 survey respondents were fewer than hoped for and some of the questions had been phrased in a way that may have affected the outcomes, NSFT staff accepted that they raised valid concerns. Peter Devlin, mental health and social care leader at the NSFT in Suffolk said they got to the “essence of our services and where they could be improved”.
“My commitment coming away from today is to make sure that what we’ve discussed gets into the consciousness of our organisation,” he added.
Brian Parrott, non-executive director with the NSFT, added: “I think we’ve all got a responsibility to follow this through but I think there’s resolve to do that and a commitment from all of us.”
Some of the findings of the survey completed by mental health service users in Suffolk and Thetford include:
- More than a third of respondents did not receive contact from the NSFT in the first month after being referred by a GP;
- Half of respondents whose point of access was A&E did not receive a courtesy call from NSFT within four days;
- Almost eight out of 10 said they were not told about their rights under the Mental Health Act;
- More than a third did not know or thought they did not have a care plan;
- A third said their care plan was never reviewed
- More than two-thirds said they were not involved in the review of their care plan;
- Two-fifths of respondents said they would like their friends or family involved in the review process;
- And half were not told about possible side effects of their medication.
- Half did not think they had a Discharge Plan
To find out more about our Mental Health Watch campaign click here.