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‘Culture change’ needed at mental health trust, boss tells councillors

PUBLISHED: 16:06 16 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:30 17 January 2019

Stuart Richardson, NSFT chief operating officer, set out his action plan at last week's health scrutiny meeting Photo: NSFT

Stuart Richardson, NSFT chief operating officer, set out his action plan at last week's health scrutiny meeting Photo: NSFT

NSFT

Suffolk’s mental health trust needs a “culture change”, leaders have told the first council meeting chaired after its third ‘inadequate’ health inspection.

Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) chiefs were quizzed on their action plan at a health scrutiny committee meeting at Suffolk County Council’s Ipswich headquarters today.

Although he was invited, chief executive Antek Lejk did not attend as he was at a meeting in Norfolk.

Current chief operating officer Stuart Richardson answered questions on improvements made at the trust since its November 2018 inspection.

“We are working towards a culture change so that we can show our staff we can support them so that they can do their job properly,” he told the meeting.

“We absolutely recognise the faults identified by the CQC in their November report. We are completely committed to resolving the issues pointed out by the CQC.

“We are aiming to complete all of the 61 ‘must do’ actions given to us by the CQC by the end of March.”

Four main challenges were identified for the trust going forward – including access, waiting lists, a renewed focus on safety and quality, and increased capacity to deliver change.

Problems with long waiting times and a lack of access to mental health services were among concerns identified by inspectors in the Care Quality Commission (CQC) report into NSFT.

Councillors at the meeting raised fears over a lack of access for rural residents.

They also said the public’s opinion of health services provided by the trust had been damaged, and pointed to the role police are having to take in supporting people with mental health issues.

Babergh councillor Margaret Maybury said: “I am really concerned about the amount that the police are having to deal with people who are at crisis point.

“They have to pick up the pieces when someone isn’t deal with by the mental health services here.”

NSFT bosses say they have addressed the inappropriate downgrading of people deemed most at risk, and have introduced a 24/7 triage service for people at crisis point.

The CQC will visit the trust again in the coming weeks to see if it has improved.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Richardson said: “We have a large number of really committed staff who are doing some really good work.

“It’s important that we start having the conversation that yes, we have got things we need to improve and there are things we didn’t get right, but there are also opportunities now as a system, to make this a much better service for people in Suffolk who are really vulnerable.”


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