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  1. ITV Report

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust to stay in special measures despite improvements

WATCH: ITV Anglia's Rob Setchell reports on the response to the CQC report.

England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals has recommended Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) remains in special measures following a Care Quality Commission inspection.

The trust was rated 'inadequate' overall and placed into special measures following an inspection in 2015. The trust was removed from special measures in 2016, then placed back in 2017.

In their return, between 7 October and 6 November 2019, inspectors found the trust had made some improvements and their rating has improved to 'requires improvement'.

However, the CQC believe more improvement is needed and so the trust will remain in special measures.

The trust has been told it must make the following improvements:

  • Ensure the internal and external environments of the learning disability inpatient service are clean, secure, maintained and suitable for the purpose for which they are being used
  • Review their systems to ensure that patients have risk assessments and care plans in the children and young person service
  • Ensure adequate staff resources are available to reduce the patient waiting lists for triage, assessment and treatment in the children and young person service and for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder patients
  • Ensure that contemporaneous records are kept for people who use health-based places of safety. The trust should ensure that medicines audits are robust, and all medication errors are reported and investigated as per trust policy
  • Ensure there are enough staff to safely manage the health-based places of safety and to meet emergency referral targets

What has the response been?

One Norfolk family have criticised the rating, saying it is "taking the mick".

Peggy Copeman, 81, died on the side of the M11 while being transported from one mental health hospital in Devon to another in Norfolk.

She had been sent to the south west by NSFT because there were not enough bed spaces in Norfolk. A few days later she was sent back, but died on the journey home.

Her son-in-law, Nick Fulcher, said it was hard to see where improvements had been made.

WATCH: ITV Anglia presenters Jonathan Wills and Becky Jago speak to NSFT Chief Executive Jonathan Warren.

Pressure group 'Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk' cited Peggy's story in their response to the report.

"This report is bad but we don't believe it fully reflects the awful reality of mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk.

"Services for children and young people are unsafe, if people can get a service at all. It is a scandal that must be addressed urgently.

"CQC claims that services for older people are the best performing part of NSFT, yet a month ago Peggy Copeman died in a minibus on the M11 during a 500-mile roundtrip to a Cygnet private hospital in Somerset because there was no NHS bed for her in Norfolk. None of the 16 new beds planned at Hellesdon Hospital are for older people like Peggy.

"Commissioners and NSFT promised in January 2014 to end transportation out of area by May 2014. The insufficient new beds at Hellesdon Hospital will not open until late 2023 at the earliest, ten years after the broken promise was made."

– Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk

It got 'requires improvement' for whether services are safe, responsive, effective and well-led and 'good' for whether services are caring.

Professor Ted Baker, Chief Inspector of Hospitals said: "At this inspection, we found that although some of the concerns had not fully been addressed, there had been a shift in approach and foundations had been laid to improve the direction of travel.

"Most staff inspectors spoke with felt more listened to, empowered and believed the trust is moving forwards."

He added: "Whilst governance processes had improved, they had not yet fully ensured that performance and risk were managed well.

"For instance, waiting lists remained high in the specialist children and young people community mental health teams."

The Chief Inspector also said some stakeholders didn't feel that changes had positively impacted all patients, with feedback advising that some still did not feel listened to.

Poor communication was also a key feature of feedback from patients and their families.