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32nd Day of Lent: Going without listening to warnings

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Guilty Men Bottom

The warnings below are from an email sent more than sixteen months ago by a carer to Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT). The email containing these quotations was sent on 22nd November 2012.

This email provides evidence that the Operations Director of NSFT knew and admitted that demand for beds was rising as long ago as 9 November 2012; that NSFT acknowledged that it was cutting services to the most vulnerable to protect ‘other services.’ NSFT ploughed on regardless with cutting beds and community services simultaneously.

The result is the community and beds crises; the current recruitment crisis as NSFT tries to undo at least partially the damage caused by its farcical redundancy programme using the cover of ‘transition’; and the impending financial crisis from its overspend on out of area beds, access and assessment and the recruitment of agency and temporary staff to replace those made redundant who never should have been.

Of course, NSFT no longer has an Assertive Outreach team, in breach of the guidance from NHS England and the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness. The email can be downloaded in its entirety as a pdf.

“As a member of the Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, I am writing this letter to express my deep concern about the current squeezing of services and human resources in the City Locality Outreach Team.  When the number of inpatient beds are to be radically reduced, despite, (quoting Kathy Chapman, Dunstan Hall, 9 November: ‘The need for beds is statistically rising…’), and more people will be living with support in the community, I am unable to understand why more of the resources that are being ‘taken out of intensive services to protect other services…’ – (Kathy Chapman, 9 November) –  are not being re-assigned to support and strengthen outreach services which being drained to breaking point. The Outreach Team has been my son’s and my first and only line of support. The time the care co-ordinators have spent with my son has kept him out of hospital and supported his physical health and mental health recovery. Time spent with Service Users is being radically reduced, due to a drastic reduction in staff.  It is this staff, keeping SUs out of those disappearing inpatient beds.”

“I have experienced a plethora of policies and documentation – the majority of which have taken a great amount of time and money to formulate, only to be expensively revised or ditched before they have been successfully implemented.”

“I care passionately for the people you serve who live in the community, fighting to regain their lives in a society which stigmatises and misunderstands them. I acknowledge and applaud the efforts the Trust is putting into analysing and redesigning its services, but despite expensive conferences and consultations, the majority of the public are unaware of the planned reduction in services and the effect this will have. I am concerned that the provision of the outreach services sits uncomfortably between the proposed pathways and needs more consideration.”

The email containing these quotes was sent more than sixteen months ago by a carer who is a member of this campaign. Not a single one of the following recipients acknowledged receipt or replied:

  • Aidan Thomas, NSFT Chief Executive
  • Maggie Wheeler, NSFT Chair
  • Graham Creelman, NSFT Director
  • Barry Capon, NSFT Director
  • Kathy Chapman, NSFT Operations Director
  • Tony Jackson, former Chair of the Governors
  • Kate Pace, Chair of the Carers Council
  • Stephen Fletcher, Chair of the Service Users Council
  • Mary Rose Roe, Carer governor
  • Sharon Picken, Lead on SU and carer involvement
  • Rebecca Horne, Consultant Psychiatrist and Staff Governor
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