“Sadly, it is necessary to comment upon the recent email from Mr Page, NSFT Chair, to all NSFT staff. Firstly, we are not a Unison campaign. Unison has no representative on the committee and, although we have received a donation from Unison for which we are most grateful, we have received significant sums from individuals and other organisations. It is worth remembering that this campaign was founded at a packed public meeting, with many turned away, including hundreds of NSFT employees who contributed hundreds of pounds in a collection. Unison’s high profile is in fact largely a result of the bullying culture exposed in the NHS Staff Survey: most concerned staff are too scared to speak out for fear of reprisals. Union officials enjoy greater legal and institutional safeguards.
Secondly, we know that staff use all possible methods to report issues. What has happened is that staff who have raised concerns have been ignored, accused of ‘shroud waving’ or worse. This campaign is the last resort of service users, carers and staff. We always encourage staff to report their concerns through the proper channels. However, when these are exhausted or the response is bullying, we will continue to provide a safe, confidential and responsible way to bring concerns into the public domain in the public interest. It is with great regret that we note that the NSFT Board seems far more concerned with its own reputation and the exposure of its incompetence than with the safety of services and it certainly doesn’t seem to have read or understood the Francis Report. Mr Page demonstrated this mindset when he bragged about the high rate of incident reporting at NSFT: as though this is a good thing! Mr. Page forgot to mention that NSFT is second worst in the country for staff experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from other staff (generally managers); third worst for fairness and effectiveness of procedures for reporting errors, near misses and incidents; and worst in England for staff witnessing potentially harmful errors, near misses or incidents in last month.
Thirdly, we are not party political in any way and have supporters from all political parties. The NHS inevitably becomes a political football. We’re certainly less political than the latest Insight magazine, distributed during the purdah period in the run-up to the local and European elections, which could be used by Norman Lamb or Nick Clegg as an election leaflet. Our campaign contains supporters of all political parties and welcomes all.
Finally, we’ll be delighted to stop campaigning when the dissembling from NSFT stops; when NSFT stops claiming there is no crisis and genuinely acknowledges its many mistakes, says what they were, how much they cost, how they are being corrected and what steps are being taken to ensure they never happen again; when there is a open and transparent NHS trust delivering decent and safe services to the people of Norfolk and Suffolk. The ‘radical redesign’ was supposed to represent a further move away from institutions towards delivering care in the community or at home. Instead it has resulted in those in crisis being locked up by the police or shipped like cargo by private ambulances across the country to Somerset or Manchester, often after long delays and deterioration.
As always, thanks for your support and we look forward to seeing you at the weekend.”