Norfolk

Worst-performing mental health trust NSFT 'still has a way to go'

Patient talking to healthcare worker Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Care Quality Commission visited the trust last autumn

A mental health trust dubbed England's worst will remain in special measures despite showing improvements in care.

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) provides mental health and learning disability services.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found the trust required improvement in four areas, but rated it "good" for its caring staff.

Chief executive Jonathan Warren, who took up the job in April last year, admitted it "still has a way to go".

NSFT was branded the worst-performing mental health trust in England after it was rated "inadequate" three times by the CQC in recent years.

It has been the only mental health trust in the country to have been placed in special measures, a step first taken in February 2015.

Inspectors visited the trust between 7 October and 6 November.

Image copyright NSFT
Image caption Patient Charles Clarke, 75, at the Julian Hospital in Norwich, which helps older people with mental health needs

Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Prof Ted Baker, said there had been a "shift in approach" after concerns over safety, culture and leadership.

"Most staff felt more listened to, empowered and believed the trust is moving forwards," he said.

"We saw early improvements in almost all areas and a feeling of optimism from all staff, but there had not been enough time to judge if these changes would be sustained."

'Under no illusions'

Twenty-two areas out of 44 had improved, the report said, with the young people's psychiatric service - the Dragonfly Unit - ranked "outstanding".

However, waiting lists remained high in the specialist children and young people community mental health teams, and "poor communication" was a key feature of patient feedback, it said.

CQC inspections rate trusts on five areas - safety, effectiveness, caring, leadership and responsiveness to people's needs.

Image caption The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is based at Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich

Mr Warren said: "This is a move in the right direction and is down to the hard work and dedication of staff.

"However, we are under no illusions and recognise that the next 12 months and beyond are crucial.

"Our ambition remains to deliver high quality and effective services for our patients and be in the top quarter of mental health trusts nationally for quality and safety by 2023."

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