Norfolk and Suffolk mental health services branded 'inadequate'

Mental health ward at Hellesdon Hospital
Image caption The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust manages mental health wards at Hellesdon Hospital near Norwich

The mental health trust for Norfolk and Suffolk is being recommended to be placed in special measures after being rated inadequate.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) was "not a safe, effective or responsive service", said the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The report said there were also concerns about a lack of beds and "urgent action" was needed.

The trust said it would improve services and put patients first.

Image caption Michael Scott, the chief executive of the NSFT, has called for parity of funding between mental health trusts and mainstream hospitals

The CQC report found:

  • Insufficient staffing levels to safely meet patient's needs
  • Inadequate arrangements for medication management and concerns regarding seclusion and restraint practice
  • Despite collection of data by the trust "there was little evidence of the use of intelligence and data to inform performance".
  • A lack of availability of beds "meant that people did not always receive the right care at the right time and sometimes people were moved, discharged early or managed within an inappropriate service"

The report recommends leadership "must be more visible and accessible to staff".

But the report also said: "Staff were kind, caring and responsive to people and were skilled in the delivery of care."

Dr Paul Lelliott, CQC's deputy chief Inspector of hospitals, said: "We found a number of serious problems when we inspected the services run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Image caption The trust manages a number of Section 136 suites, which are set aside for patients who are detained by police under the Mental Health Act for their own safety

"We were concerned about the safety and quality of care provided by some of the trust's services," he added.

"We were also struck by the low morale of many of the staff that we interviewed who told us that their voices were not heard by those managing the trust."

Trust chief executive Michael Scott said: "Our priority is to make sure we work with staff to improve the services we provide across Norfolk and Suffolk.

"We are under new management, the new team is bedding in, and there is no complacency on our part about the need to continue to deliver improvements.

"I would like to assure our patients, staff and our partners that this is a turning point for the trust and we will continue to do everything possible to address all of the recommendations the CQC has made."

A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health in Norfolk and Suffolk said: "The regulator confirms what our campaign has consistently said for more than a year."

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