Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has now been placed into special measures. It is the first mental health trust in England and Wales to receive this drastic treatment.
A recent inspection of the Trust, which runs various healthcare services and hospitals in East Anglia, detected a number of serious problems resulting in an overall “inadequate” rating
The inspection by the CQC (Care Quality Commission) led the Chief Inspector of Hospitals to recommend it be placed into special measures. The inspection in question took place in October of 2014. CQC inspectors looked at the Trust overall and at individual services, and rate them on a four point scale of outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.
The Trust provides learning disability services and mental health care to a large swathe of Suffolk and Norfolk and was found to be in need of significant improvements to ensure that it was providing its patients with care which was effective, safe, well managed and responsive to the needs of patients.
CQC concerns regarding the Norfolk and Suffolk Trust were passed to Monitor – the official body responsible for health services across England – which has now made the special measures decision.
“Inadequate” services “requiring improvement”
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust was rated “inadequate” when inspectors looked at whether services were properly managed and safe, and “requiring improvement” for services being effective and responsive. The CQC rated the Trust as “inadequate” overall.
During the inspection the CQC found that across many areas of the Trust staff morale was exceptionally low, and there were concerns raised about the lack of support given to staff by senior management.
The CQC also found examples of unsafe environments which did not allow patient dignity, not enough staff on duty to meet the needs of patients, poor management of medication and issues around practices concerning seclusion and restraint.
The CQC demanded that the Trust take action to identify and remove ligature risks, and to make alternative arrangements where staff cannot easily see patients. The CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Dr Paul Lelliott, said that a number of serious problems were identified during the CQC inspection.
Dr Lelliott said that the CQC was concerned about both the quality and safety of care found in some of the Trust’s services. He also stated that the CQC were worried by the low levels of morale expressed by many of the staff who had been spoken to, who expressed the opinion that they were not being heard by senior Trust management.
CQC inspectors did identify some positives from the inspection, and found good examples of working practices across disciplines from staff in the child and adolescent community teams.
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