Council debates calls to back split of Norfolk and Suffolk’s mental health trust
Calls for Suffolk County Council to formally adopt a policy backing the break-up of the region’s mental health trust have failed to win support.
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust was given its third ‘inadequate’ rating by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission at the end of 2018.
It prompted calls for fresh action and, just days after chief executive Antek Lejk walked away from the job, a motion was put forward by Suffolk County Council’s Labour group calling on the Tory administration to back a policy of establishing a Suffolk-only trust.
But the motion failed to gain enough traction at a full meeting of Suffolk County Council on Thursday, March 21 where cabinet members said it was crucial to work with the trust on its improvement plan.
Beccy Hopfensperger, cabinet member for adult care, said: “While evidence suggests some early progress, the overall quality and safety provided by NSFT are inadequate, and this council expects further rapid, demonstrable improvements.
“The people of Suffolk deserve to receive good quality mental health services.”
She added: “We are committed to working with the NSFT and all other partners.”
Council leader Matthew Hicks said health secretary Matt Hancock was “very much involved in moving that forward” and added: “I really see no benefit in writing to the secretary of state while things are moving at such a pace.”
A spokesman from the trust said its position had not changed since the motion was published a week earlier, outlining its new mental health strategies which were being implemented alongside other partner organisations.
Liberal Democrat councillor Inga Lockington said talented staff at the trust needed to be supported, and added: “If all we do is change the nameplate above the door we have failed them.”
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Labour group leader Sarah Adams, who put forward the motion, said: “Each and every new CEO comes with a promise to reform, restructure and improve the trust and each one has singularly failed.”
Speaking afterwards, she added: “The overriding sentiment was that this council wants to let others decide what the future of mental health services in Suffolk are like.”