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EDP: ‘Tolerance of poor standards’ at mental health trust, report finds

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Geraldine Scott of the Eastern Daily Press reports:

A damning review into the leadership at the region’s mental health trust has identified a “tolerance of poor standards”, it can be revealed.

We’ve been saying this since 2013.

NHS Improvement, the national body which oversees health trusts, ordered the report into Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) in a bid to fix issues raised when the service was put into special measures last year.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) branded NSFT as inadequate in October for the second time in three years.

The CQC laid much of the blame at the feet of the board of directors and said they “had failed to address all the serious concerns that had been reported to them since 2014”.

Who has been Chair of NSFT since May 2013?

The answer is Gary Page.

Every single other NSFT director has been sacrificed as Gary Page has sought to deflect blame and to save his own reputation. Hadrian Ball, John Brierly, Roz Brooks, Gary Capon, Kathy Chapman, Graham Creelman, Peter Jefferys, Brian Parrot, Jane Sayer, Stewart Smith, Adrian Stott, Aidan Thomas, Andrew Hopkins, Michael Scott, Debbie White and Leigh Howlett have all been chucked overboard.

Gary Page is the sole survivor.

What a merchant banker.

And a new report by consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), released ahead of a board of directors meeting today (Thursday), will again make difficult reading for those at the top who were accused of being too positive and quick to absolve themselves of responsibility.

Dr Pangloss would be proud of Gary Page.

Gary Page, the trust’s chair, pledged to “not shy away from these difficult issues” and said the team was “wholeheartedly committed to improving quality and safety”.

Which Gary Page has failed to achieve since May 2013. He’s good at forcing out his colleagues though.

The PwC report said the board needed to recognise its “collective and ultimate responsibility for ensuring that standards are being met” and that there was “a tendency to externalise things away from the board, rather than decide on clear specific action or intervention to be taken”.

Everything is the fault of staff, the campaign, the media, etc.

And it added: “During the board meeting we observed, there was a tendency to be too positive about action being taken to address patient safety risks. More objective consideration of why risks hadn’t been identified and addressed sooner would have been more appropriate.”

The press release from NSFT about the PWC report typically says nothing negative. No wonder so many NSFT staff have their emails set up to send NSFT Comms straight to trash.

In his first CEO’s report in the Board papers, Antek Lejk quite astonishingly claims he has ‘been delighted by the warm welcome I have received from everyone I have met’.

That’s untrue.

Service users and carers deemed Antek Lejk unappointable. We know they have told him. They’ve told us. We’ve told him. At least one service user governor has resigned in protest at his appointment.

Dr Pangloss is alive and well at NSFT.

The consultants said the trust had “weak clinical leadership” which undermined efforts to make improvements and the board was not using information or data correctly to monitor quality.

We first wrote about the exclusion of clinicians in our report to the Norfolk County Council Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (NHOSC) back in January 2014.

The only doctor who has had influence at NSFT is Dr Pangloss.

There was also a concern staff “do not identify with a vision or a strategy for the trust and have become passive to affecting change or improvement”.

Staff started the mental health campaign. Repeated NHS Staff Surveys have shown how they have been bullied and ignored for too long.

But the auditors also said non-executive directors provided “strong challenge”…

That’s not what we’ve seen from the Board of Shame.

That particular sentence of the PWC report continues:

…this did not always lead to adequate assurance being obtained in relation to performance and risk.

NSFT has ignored its staff, service users and carers for too long.

What is remarkable about the PWC report is how little is said about the concerns and role of patients and carers.

There need to be less bureaucratic five year plans and more listening to the customer.

Instead, we’ve seen the appointment of hatchet man and former commissioning bureaucrat who failed to fund quality improvements and who oversaw the sending of patients to an inadequate hospital, Antek Lejk, as CEO of NSFT, in spite of service user and carer objections, as the final revenge of Gary Page before he jumps from the sinking ship.

If Gary Page had any honour he would have resigned long, long ago. When he refused to do so, he should have been sacked.

Click on the image below to read the article in full on the EDP website:

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