EDP: Mental health boss brands rejection of funding as ‘utterly indefensible’ as governors raise concern over recruitment figures

Gemma Mitchell of the Eastern Daily Press reports:

A mental health boss has hit out and branded it ‘utterly indefensible’ that a bid for more than £5m which would be used to address safety concerns was snubbed by the government.

We understand that the Improvement Director, imposed upon Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) by NHS Improvement (NHSI) and who was at the meeting of the Council of Governors, had a ‘face like thunder’ when the Chair of NSFT told the truth in public about NHSI’s snub.

NHSI took control of NSFT after it was put into Special Measures for an unprecedented second time after being found by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to be inadequate for an unprecedented second time.

How did NHSI react to NSFT being inadequate for safety?

NHSI refused £5.2m emergency capital funding for urgent safety improvements on 12th March 2018.

This newspaper revealed last week that a £5.2m bid put in by Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) had been knocked back by the Department of Health, even though some of the work had already been carried out.

The costs would now have to be met from NSFT’s already squeezed budget, which estimates the trust will finish the financial year at a £800,000 deficit.

But at a meeting of the organisation’s council of governors in Ipswich on Thursday, chairman Gary Page said the rejection was “not acceptable”.

He said: “It was utterly indefensible that a trust in special measures is being told by the CQC it has to fix things and NHSI (NHS Improvement) encouraged us to apply for the money and it then gets deferred.”

We understand the bid was not ‘deferred’ but rejected. Since the refusal became public, we hear that NSFT has been told by NHSI that it is not allowed to say the bid was rejected, as it was, but has to say ‘deferred’ because NHSI refuses to take responsibility for its own dangerous decision.

[Gary Page] added: “It’s not acceptable and we have made that very clear to them.”

Mr Page said he had made his views known during a meeting with NHS Improvement – the regulator which oversees trusts and is sent in when they are rated inadequate – this week.

The money would have gone towards fixing issues highlighted by inspectors when they put NSFT into special measures in October, and the trust will be reapplying for the funding in 2018/19.

NHSI and its Improvement Director, Philippa Slinger, are making the crisis in mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk worse.

NHSI has imposed on a new CEO, Antek Lejk, on NSFT who has serious questions to answer about his role in the out-of-hours deaths scandal and who as commissioner oversaw the sending of people to a private hospital rated inadequate by the CQC.

NSFT’s crisis is a safety crisis: how can we possibly have any faith in Antek Lejk to put things right?

Antek Lejk has never run a trust the size of NSFT, hasn’t had a job running a secondary care mental health trust for a decade and has had eleven jobs with nine organisations in twenty-one years.

NSFT’s crisis is an operational crisis: how can we possibly have any faith in Antek Lejk to put things right?

The CQC was clear that NSFT does not have enough beds. As Chief Officer of the Norfolk STP, Antek Lejk ignored both CQC reports and refused to commission sufficient NHS beds. While NHSI has been in charge and Antek Lejk has been the Chief Officer of the STP, NSFT has announced the closure of another 36 beds, including all the psychiatric intensive care beds in Suffolk.

NSFT’s crisis is a beds crisis: how can we possibly have any faith in Antek Lejk to put things right?

Antek Lejk was rejected by service users and carers.

NSFT’s crisis is a crisis of public confidence: how can we possibly have any faith in Antek Lejk to put matters right when he takes a job at a trust where he knows service users and carers have rejected him?

Meanwhile, NHSI tries to pretend this deepening mental health crisis is nothing to do with it, whilst it is up to its neck in it.

The Chief Executive of NHSI, Ian Dalton, needs to get a grip.

Join us at our protest on 1st May 2018.

Click on the image below to read the article in full on the EDP website, which also contain important information about the on-going recruitment crisis at NSFT which we will cover shortly:


4 thoughts on “EDP: Mental health boss brands rejection of funding as ‘utterly indefensible’ as governors raise concern over recruitment figures”

  1. Reading the EDP article above, it appears that NSFT continues to congratulate itself on improving, whilst presenting misleading statistics. Further NSFT seem to be spending money they have not yet received and which has presently been refused by NHS Improvement. NSFT historically have presented a rosy picture of its services to the public, but remains the worst mental health Foundation Trust in England. The new board must be running to catch up with itself, but still losing the race. If the public was aware of the background performance of the newly appointed CEO and his job history it would surely protest at his appointment. The Chair’s enthusiasm about the appointment should be seriously questioned even though he was overseeing when 500 medical staff were made redundant a few years ago. What would he give for those 500 now. What is the NHS improvement director doing at NSFT, treating the Trust like a mouse trying to catch a piece of cheese – the £5.2 million that is needed to satisfy CQC demands for safety measures.

    If only the public would wake up to what is happening in its local mental health service and the inequalities of funding between physical health and mental health. I thank the EDP and the campaign to save mental health for its efforts to advertise the facts.

  2. Justcalthesamaratins

    Why on earth didn’t these idiots keep the qualified and experienced staff they had years ago? Wasted £paying redundancies, made staff mentaly ill, now £ 10000 incentives to get new staff. GP must be p’d off to speak out, normally he’s telling everyone how well the trust is doing, despite the facts.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top