We’ve known the intended result of the inspection of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) since before Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected the worst mental health trust in the country.
We’ve heard rumours from many quarters that NSFT would be moved from ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Requires Improvement’ tomorrow for months, with the bureaucratic dinosaur known as NHS Improvement and NHS England covering its corporate back by keeping NSFT in Special Measures.
The NHS bureaucracy has decided that the way to end NSFT’s failure is to pretend NSFT isn’t failing patients and carers, to ignore the evidence from stakeholders across Norfolk and Suffolk, both within and without the NHS.
That said, the NHS bureaucracy lacks sufficient confidence in the Board of NSFT to risk its own reputation, perhaps because the last time NSFT was unwisely released from Special Measures its directors gave themselves £10,000 pay rises and then took the trust straight back to Inadequate and Special Measures. So, the stitch-up is that NSFT will no longer be completely Inadequate but will remain in Special Measures.
Individual CQC inspectors did their best, much as front line clinical staff do their best in impossible conditions at NSFT, but the resulting report was always going to be much more about NHS and Whitehall politics than patient safety. We wrote to CQC back in October to raise our serious concerns, which were and are shared by others who cannot speak out.
Look at this excerpt from NSFT’s own performance dashboard, a sea of red, contained in the papers for the NSFT Board meeting in November 2019, to see how divorced from reality the claims of improvement from CQC will be tomorrow.
Then remember Peggy Copeman dying alone on the M11 just before Christmas.
Improvement doesn’t look like this: