EDP: Ex-staff members speak out over ‘rotten foundations’ of mental health trust

Geraldine Scott of the Eastern Daily Press reports:

Healthcare professionals who used to work at the region’s mental health trust have slammed “rotten foundations” stemming from a radical redesign six years ago.

Former employees have spoken of their disappointment at the latest inspection report into Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) which plunged the service into special measures.

And they said remaining leaders who saw through changes needed to go.

The current Chair of NSFT, Gary Page, ignored repeated warnings from patients, staff, Unison, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and our campaign and pushed through the disastrous radical redesign. Now on his fourth NSFT Chief Executive to take the blame, Gary Page hangs onto his job despite the enormous damage the Board he leads has done to mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk. Gary Page is an investment banker.

Gary Page is not the only member of the disastrous management team to cling onto their jobs despite the catastrophe at NSFT. This is the opposite of the recruitment crisis for front line staff at NSFT. Yet front line staff saw their average pay fall by nearly £300 last year while Board members awarded themselves £10,000 pay rises.

Dr Lampert said: “The current NSFT board are trying to build improvements on rotten foundations.

“The radical redesign introduced in 2011 has damaged services to a degree that is difficult to recover from.

“This service reshape had fundamentally wrong ideas about what makes a good service and the brutal and splitting way it was implemented has traumatised working relationships, trust, pride creativity and resilience in the workforce.”

And she said although the changes were now many years ago, she felt the vision had not changed.

“Many experienced and respected clinicians left at the time in an atmosphere where the management style was dictatorial, where those who did not agree were better off gone.

“Then, as now, the board’s vision for the service was not concerned with safety and getting the basics right.”

Well said, Dr Lampert.

Dr Lampert’s claims joined those of a former NSFT senior manager, who still works in the local healthcare system.

The man worked for the trust for 17 years, but left last year. He said he had little confidence the leadership could turn things around, and that when he had previously raised concerns these had been dealt with unprofessionally.

He said: “My fear for NSFT is that the retirement of the chief executive will be insufficient to create the change of culture the organisation desperately needs and if this opportunity is missed the care of people using the trust’s services will continue to suffer.”

Again, well said. That this senior manager is forced to speak anonymously speaks volumes about the culture of bullying and refusal to listen or learn at the top of NSFT. The Board can, of course, award themselves irreversible £10,000 pay rises or pay their former colleagues huge sums for not working or pretending to retire while services are cut, the trust is rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission and becomes the only mental health trust ever to have been placed in special measures by NHS Improvement. Twice.

The new interim Chief Executive of NSFT, accountant Julie Cave, makes the usual excuses which we won’t bother to repeat here.

To read the article in full, click on the image below to visit the EDP website:

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