Tom Bristow of the Eastern Daily Press reports:
The region’s mental health trust has been stripped of some medical students and funding amid concerns about the quality of its training.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) was being paid by Health Education England (HEE) to train 47 medical students from the University of East Anglia (UEA).
But that number has been reduced to 27 “due to the quality of training provided”, according to a confidential document which went before the trust’s finance committee late last year.
That has led to a £176,000 reduction in funding.
The warnings had long been in place that the NSFT training for UEA students was not up to scratch.
Last summer the board was told the trust risked losing money and reputation because of its training for UEA students.
As with so many of our other warnings, NSFT’s Board wasted time drafting action plans which it failed to implement.
Dr Trevor Broughton, director of medical education at NSFT, said: “We were disappointed that feedback from this group of undergraduates in 2015 did not reflect the high standards we would hold ourselves up to.
“However, we are committed to ensure our trust offers an academic service of excellence and we want to work with our partner universities to repatriate this funding.
“The reduced funding shouldn’t impact on services as the money is not intended for service delivery, but purely for training doctors of the future.”
The loss of the hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding, known as SIFT (Service Increment For Teaching), will ‘impact on services’ if the SIFT funding continues to be wasted. This action isn’t just the result of ‘feedback from this group of undergraduates in 2015’. The University of East Anglia (UEA) has been demanding improvement for years.
SIFT funding is supposed to be spent on additional medical resources (i.e. doctors) to provide backfill for those delivering teaching to protect the quality of front line NHS services. This happens in Suffolk, where undergraduates from the University of Cambridge are placed. But in Norfolk, the UEA’s SIFT funding was diverted to create two bureaucratic Deputy Medical Director posts at NSFT, which were then further extended to add a Director of Research. The money went to those who sit in meetings and eat biscuits. The former NSFT Operations Director and architect of the radical redesign, Kathy Chapman, refused to take individual teaching workloads into account during the disastrous radical redesign cuts. Some of UEA’s SIFT funding was diverted to West Norfolk which doesn’t even take UEA medical students. UEA’s SIFT money did not follow those who delivered teaching and, as a direct result, many doctors who taught UEA medical students felt unable to continue to do so due to the demands of their NHS work.
One of the doctors who benefited from the diverted SIFT money works in a service with long waiting lists. He costs that service a staggering £17,500 per month but claims to have time to deliver just one day per week of medical time to that service. But he does have time to be the clinical director of a private clinic. Two years ago, one of NSFT’s stakeholder’s took a course at UEA and regularly saw the same doctor swimming and enjoying long lunches in the Sainsbury Centre restaurant during working hours. The issue was raised at the highest levels of NSFT. Recently, a retired mental health professional met the same doctor in the UEA Sportspark, again swimming during working hours. Again, the issue was raised at the highest levels of NSFT. The doctor claims it is okay to go swimming and have long lunches during working hours while the service he costs £17,5000 per month has waiting lists because it is his ‘protected time’. Shameless.
Do the commissioners at the CCGs and Health Education England (HEE) intend £17,500 per month of taxpayers’ money to be spent to allow a doctor to go swimming and enjoy long lunches while patients are left on waiting lists and teaching is rated as unacceptable?
UEA and HEE certainly don’t think their money has been well spent. UEA doesn’t want to send its medical students from Norwich to South Essex and Northamptonshire for decent training but feels it has no choice. Now medical students as well as patients are being sent out of area.
With the loss of this SIFT funding, it is not front line clinical services that should be cut: it is the swimming, long lunches and biscuit-eating that should be eliminated.
Will the NSFT Board will take decisive action and hold to account those who have taken the SIFT funding and Clinical Excellence Awards (CEA) but failed to deliver?
Or will New Ways of Shirking continue?
What do you think?
Click on the image below to read Tom Bristow’s article in full on the EDP website: