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Kept in the Dark: Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) ignores the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act

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What is it like trying to obtain information from Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT)?

Public bodies have a statutory duty to respond within twenty working days which means we should have received a response to the request below in the middle of January. We have yet to receive a response from NSFT after more than four months.

Public bodies have a duty to help with information requests. NSFT doesn’t reply, even when the Trust Secretary, Solicitor and Chair know what is going on.

What is NSFT trying to hide?

UPDATE: It is worth clarifying that the staff who process FOIs have always tried to be helpful whenever they are allowed. We suspect the problems are in their usual places, higher up.

Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:13:20 +0000
Subject: Report of interviews with staff regarding TSS process in community teams in the central cluster
From: NorfolkSuffolk MentalHealthCrisis
To: “Freedom of Information (NSFT)”

This anonymised report has just been released to staff. Please send us a copy.

Regards.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:13:50 +0000
Subject: Fwd: Report of interviews with staff regarding TSS process in community teams in the central cluster
From: NorfolkSuffolk MentalHealthCrisis
To: FOI

We submitted this request some time ago but we have not had a response, rejection or change of email notification. Has your department changed its email address? We assume you received our email. Please confirm.

Regards.

From: “Freedom of Information (NSFT)”
To: ‘NorfolkSuffolk MentalHealthCrisis’
Subject: RE: Report of interviews with staff regarding TSS process in community teams in the central cluster
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:24:40 +0000

Thank you for your email.

I confirm that I have checked my records and I don’t not appear to have received this email. Any email sent to both the old nwmhp and smhp email addresses is automatically forwarded on to the nsft address so apologies if this was over looked.

For future reference we always acknowledge new requests by emailing an foi reference to the requestor so should you make a request and not receive an acknowledgement it is always worth checking.

I will action your request below.

Yours sincerely

From: “Freedom of Information (NSFT)”
To: ‘NorfolkSuffolk MentalHealthCrisis’
Subject: FOI REQUEST 69 2015 (NSMHC)
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:35:34 +0000

Thank you for your request for information. Your request will be dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, I will let you know. A fees notice will be issued to you, and you will be required to pay before we will proceed to deal with your request.

If you have any queries, about this email, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future correspondence.

Yours sincerely

Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2015 16:34:35 +0000
Subject: Re: FOI REQUEST 69 2015 (NSMHC)
From: NorfolkSuffolk MentalHealthCrisis
To: “Freedom of Information (NSFT)”

Dear [redacted],

Given that this request can be fulfilled by simply attaching [redacted]’s report, could we have this as soon as possible, given that the original request was submitted more than two months ago?

Thanks in advance.

From: “Freedom of Information (NSFT)”
To: ‘NorfolkSuffolk MentalHealthCrisis’
Subject: RE: FOI REQUEST 69 2015 (NSMHC)
Date: Tue, 3 Mar 2015 09:13:04 +0000

Please see my attached email which was sent on the 25th February 2015 acknowledging your request and confirming that the original request had not been received.

I confirm we are dealing with this request under the usual 20 day statutory deadline following receipt of your email on the 25th February 2015 and hope to respond to you shortly.

Date: Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:44:24 +0000
Subject: Re: FOI REQUEST 69 2015 (NSMHC)
From: NorfolkSuffolk MentalHealthCrisis
To: “Freedom of Information (NSFT)”

Ms. [redacted],

Can you now send the [redacted] report as the 20 working days FOI deadline has now passed?

Thank you in advance.

Date: Wed, 15 Apr 2015 13:09:04 +0100
Subject: Re: FOI REQUEST 69 2015 (NSMHC)
From: NorfolkSuffolk MentalHealthCrisis
To: “Freedom of Information (NSFT)”

Further to our email of three weeks ago, can you please let us know why we have not received a response to FOI 69?

Regards.

Date: Mon, 20 Apr 2015 13:13:24 +0100
Subject: Re: FOI REQUEST 69 2015 (NSMHC)
From: NorfolkSuffolk MentalHealthCrisis
To: “Freedom of Information (NSFT)”, “Page Gary E (NSFT)”

Can you please supply the now seriously overdue FOI 69?

We have chased this FOI repeatedly without response or acknowledgement but have received answers to later FOIs.

Given the delay, we have copied this email to the trust Chair.

The report we seek is ‘Understanding the impact of Trust Service Strategy on staff working in the Central Adult Service Line” written by [redacted] of NSFT.

Thank you.

Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2015 11:01:51 +0100
Subject: Re: FOI REQUEST 69 2015 (NSMHC)
From: NorfolkSuffolk MentalHealthCrisis
To: “Freedom of Information (NSFT)”, “Page Gary E (NSFT)”, “Heaney Maeve (NSFT)”, “Nesbitt Robert (NSFT)”, “Howlett Leigh(NSFT)”

Sir/Madam,

We submitted our original request for this information under the Freedom of Information Act on 16th December. We still have not received the information or any response to our many emails questioning the delay after your initial acknowledgement in breach of both Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s statutory obligations and common courtesy even after copying in the Chair of the trust.

We have received responses to later requests but not to this one. This information is already anonymised, is neither commercially sensitive nor policy advice and is of very significant public interest given NSFT’s subsequent CQC ‘inadequate’ and Monitor’s placing the trust into Special Measures. Acute embarrassment is not a valid reason [for] exemption under the FOI.

Given that Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust appears to be wilfully ignoring its statutory obligations, this email is copied to the Executive Director with direct responsibility for FOI, Leigh Howlett. It is also copied to the Trust Secretary and Solicitor: we ask they copy it to the non-executive directors and governors of NSFT.

Regards.

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2 thoughts on “Kept in the Dark: Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) ignores the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act

  1. MHP says:

    I lived through the radical redesign. I saw services destroyed and vast amounts of money wasted. All of our warnings were ignored. The spineless clinical, medical and operational management who cared more for their ambition and easy lives than service safety remain invisible and unaccountable in their highly paid jobs.

    I was interviewed by Marie Alexander. Many of my colleagues refused to take part and told me it was a waste of time as the trust would just ignore and bury any criticism. Now, after a scandal which is the mental health Mid-Staffs, NSFT does exactly what my more cynical colleagues told me it would. Lost for words.

     

    Reply
  2. Terry skyrme says:

    Will the culture at NSFT ever change if even now the Trust cannot face up to the mistakes of the past, cannot apologise for their treatment of staff and service-users. How on earth are they going to face up to the next round of “efficiency savings” after the election? Will they still claim they are “enhancing services” or will they admit that safe , best practice services cannot be delivered with this level of funding? In short, will they support the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk?

    Reply

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