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Report reveals mental health trust ‘culture of bullying’ as public excluded from meeting

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Jessica Frank-Keyes of the Eastern Daily Press reports:

The region’s mental health trust has been criticised for discussing in private a report into its staff culture of “bullying and lack of respect” – at a meeting meant to be open to the public.

That says it all really, doesn’t it?

Exclusion demonstrates the contempt of the Board of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) for patients, carers, staff and public as well as its incompetence.

You can bet that Jean Clark, the recently-appointed Trust Secretary, will be trousering a small fortune from NHS coffers for not being able to run a bath. Is her nonjob Band 8d, Band 9 or VSM? More or less than £100,000 per annum for getting other people to arrange some meetings, take and type some minutes and print some papers?

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), branded the worst mental health trust in England, unveiled a report on its staff culture ahead of a meeting of senior directors, held on Thursday, May 21.

The report described the trust’s environment as “characterised by bullying, disempowerment, lack of respect and unreasonableness.”

The trust, which remained in special measures following its latest inspection in January this year, has been slammed for the “disappointing” move of holding discussions behind closed doors.

The trust holds board meetings ten times a year, and says on its website “members of the public are welcome to attend”.

However, at Thursday’s meeting, held remotely via Microsoft Teams, the public were barred from listening in – despite the agenda describing it as a “public session”.

A trust spokeswoman said the meeting would not be recorded or subsequently broadcast, but any decisions would be revealed by the end of May.

Typical of the toxic trust’s Board.

Even donkey sanctuaries have mastered live streaming video.

But donkey sanctuaries are run by people looking after donkeys whereas NSFT is run by donkeys supposedly looking after people.

A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said they were “incredibly disappointed”.

They said: “How is a board meeting public if the public can’t observe what’s going on?

“It is a decision they’re making. There’s no reason not to make it public. They have had two months to get ready for this.”

They added: “This is actually an opportunity for the trust that covers such a large geographical area to engage with people better.

“It should be an opportunity to increase access by streaming the meeting, but rather than take that opportunity they’re not even letting anyone in. It’s incredibly disappointing.”

Problems highlighted in the report included:

• A poor leadership culture,

• Lack of respect and shared values and a top down culture,

• A pattern of discrimination,

• And complaints of harassment and bullying.

We can see why NSFT wanted to exclude everybody.

The mental health campaign spokesperson said the report was “unbelievable” and added: “This isn’t something they’ve just discovered.

“It’s an issue with top down bullying management.

“They have been publishing reports that say they have this bullying culture for five years.

“Rather than just having reports every now and then they should do something about it.

“They have an issue with racial discrimination with BAME staff treated really badly and there’s huge gender inequality in terms of management and pay.”

Then, in its statement to the EDP, NSFT shamefully ignores its overt discrimination against women, ignores the fact that representation of women at executive level has worsened, disregards the decline in BAME staff in managerial positions and attempts to wrap itself up in the hard work of the very front line staff that it bullies and discriminates against.

“Part of this report recognises the fundamental point that we need to better support people who are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. So far, we have launched the Expect Respect campaign in January, taken part in a reverse mentoring programme and have an active BME group. We are proud of all our staff and the tremendous efforts they have put in during this pandemic.

What use are ‘mentoring schemes’ and ‘groups’ when those very same staff are bullied, abused, discriminated against and paid less?

If the NSFT Board was genuinely proud of its staff, it would treat them decently.

If the NSFT Board was concerned about the bullying and discriminatory culture, it would not have re-employed or promoted the people responsible for it.

Click on the image below to read the report in full on the EDP website. Trigger warning: features the usual levels of complacency and sycophancy from the unaccountable Alex Stewart of Healthwatch Norfolk. Don’t read the article if you will find the wasting of half a million pounds from NHS coffers every single year depressing. The local NHS might as well just pay a professional PR agency that would be honest about its purpose and actually do some work.

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