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EDP: ‘I want to get my sleeves rolled up and improve things’ – New mental health boss sets out priorities

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Geraldine Scott of the Eastern Daily Press reports:

The new boss of the region’s mental health trust has expressed his disappointment after it was revealed service users and carers gave him low scores during the interview process.

The scores weren’t just low. The large and heterogeneous service user and carer appointment panel came to the conclusion Mr Lejk was unappointable.

Antek Lejk stepped up as the new chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) this week, he was previously the boss at north and south Norfolk clinical commissioning groups.

In a wide-ranging interview Mr Lejk said he “did not get the message over” with the panel, which was just one part of the appointment process, where he was reportedly given scores of zeros and ones.

It isn’t that Antek Lejk ‘did not get the message over’.

He got his message and values over. It is simply that he appalled service users and carers with values incompatible with a recovery-focused organisation with a belief in genuine stakeholder involvement and co-production.

He said: “You go through the process on the day, and you don’t always hit it.”

Antek Lejk didn’t just fail to ‘hit it’. He appalled the trust’s service users and carers.

“I think I pitched myself slightly wrong with that user and carer group because I think I was trying to get the message over on some of the organisational things I’ve been involved in.

Antek Lejk was aggressive and confrontational. He didn’t pitch himself ‘slightly wrong’. He was offensive.

And I probably didn’t put enough into my own beliefs and the importance of service users and carers.

If Antek Lejk truly believed in the importance of service users and carers, he would not have forced himself into the job of Chief Executive of NSFT knowing that its own customers utterly rejected him.

“So I could have done better and I regret that I didn’t, and now I need to go and make it up to them by proving what I am and what I stand for.”

But Mr Lejk said he was “passionate about service users and carers and wanting to do a good job”.

Antek Lejk was the chief officer of the lead commissioner of mental health services in Norfolk which failed to fund the improvements and beds demanded by two Care Quality Commission inspections. How is that being ‘passionate about service users and carers’?

Antek Lejk was the chief officer of the lead commissioner of mental health services in Norfolk but couldn’t be bothered to attend the Norfolk County Council committee meetings into the reasons for the repeated failure of NSFT. How is that being ‘passionate about service users and carers’?

Antek Lejk in his first day of his new job as Chief Executive of NSFT completely ignored campaigners when he attended the ‘Breaking the Mould’ jamboree at Carrow Road. How is that being ‘passionate about service users and carers’?

He added: “I took this job on because I want to actually get my sleeves rolled up and get into something which is going to improve things. I obviously didn’t sell myself as well as I should have done. So I regret that but I’ll have to live with it.”

What an egotist. It isn’t Mr Lejk’s regret. It is service users, carers and staff Mr Lejk is expecting to ‘live with it’.

Mr Lejk admits NSFT does not have enough beds:

Asked whether NSFT currently had enough beds he said : “Clearly not because we’ve got people out of county, but you can’t magic them up. And it’s less the beds and more the workforce.”

Mr Lejk had the purse strings to ‘magic them up’ but refused to do so.

Mr Lejk came to his new role from previously heading up two commissioning bodies, which decide where money is spent in the local NHS.

The move prompted outcry from critics who said Mr Lejk had been responsible for starving the trust of cash, and NSFT interim chief executive Julie Cave previously told this newspaper she wanted more money for services.

But Mr Lejk said new ways of working meant barriers between commissioners and providers had been broken down.

Obviously, no one has told Mr Lejk about the disaster of ‘News Way of Working’ in mental health.

While referrals to NSFT increased by 48 per cent, Mr Lejk and his commissioner chums cut NSFT’s share of the NHS Norfolk budget by 8.3 per cent – while it was being rated unsafe and failing by the CQC.

Mr Lejk’s appointment isn’t about breaking down barriers – it is about NHS Improvement and commissioners taking control, cutting and privatising.

“However there’s no point beating the commissioners up over that fact because they don’t pocket the money that they don’t spend, they spend it all.”

Actually, they’ve spent very large sums on their own salaries and management consultants as they cut services and front line staff had their wages frozen, as reported in the Eastern Daily Press.

Is Mr Lejk going to publish his own new salary?

Will Norfolk and Suffolk split?

After Suffolk MPs last month suggested it might be time for NSFT to split into two separate organisations, Mr Lejk dismissed the idea.

He said: “It’s not on the cards in the sense that nobody has a plan to do it. I think what we need to recognise with the creation of sustainability and transformation and emerging integrated care systems there is a real drive to create strong partnerships in localities.”

That is good to hear. But do we trust Mr Lejk? Or is he the NHS Improvement hatchet man?

What kind of individual forces himself into a job where he knows he is unwanted and his values rejected?

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2 thoughts on “EDP: ‘I want to get my sleeves rolled up and improve things’ – New mental health boss sets out priorities

  1. Jan Allen says:

    I’m pleased to hear that he wants to roll his sleeves up and improve things but having waited nearly a year  for him to reply to my concerns around South Norfolk CCG’s apparent unwillingness to offer a transparent continuing healthcare appeal process I am fearful that he is willing or able to do so.

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  2. Heather Edmondson says:

    He should never have been appointed they knew who would get the post before the interview. They made the service users see him separately and they voted against him. The service users should have been on the panel. It only takes 3 people to do the interviews someone from HR, a service user and a non biased member of the trust. They are crooks and want sacking bring in people who actually know about mental health, don’t let them award their salaries and keep on awarding themselves pay rises. Open up all the beds closed in Norfolk. Pay staff proper wages and stop making excuse about not being able to get staff. The care in the community doesn’t work they are under staffed, the Crisis teams can’t cope all this will lead to more suicides. I have been interviewed by the CQC twice in three years. I suffer with mental health illness.
    I hope Michael Scott isn’t still getting paid he was perhaps ANTON & MICHAEL COULD BOTH ROLL UP THEIR SLEEVES AND SCRUB SOME FLOORS AND PAINT THE WARDS.

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