EDP: Norfolk and Suffolk mental health trust loses cash and UEA medical students amid training concerns

Tom Bristow of the Eastern Daily Press reports:

The region’s mental health trust has been stripped of some medical students and funding amid concerns about the quality of its training.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) was being paid by Health Education England (HEE) to train 47 medical students from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

But that number has been reduced to 27 “due to the quality of training provided”, according to a confidential document which went before the trust’s finance committee late last year.

That has led to a £176,000 reduction in funding.

We’ve been warning about this serious issue for over a year and have raised concerns at public Board meetings of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

The warnings had long been in place that the NSFT training for UEA students was not up to scratch.

Last summer the board was told the trust risked losing money and reputation because of its training for UEA students.

As with so many of our other warnings, NSFT’s Board wasted time drafting action plans which it failed to implement.

Dr Trevor Broughton, director of medical education at NSFT, said: “We were disappointed that feedback from this group of undergraduates in 2015 did not reflect the high standards we would hold ourselves up to.

“However, we are committed to ensure our trust offers an academic service of excellence and we want to work with our partner universities to repatriate this funding.

“The reduced funding shouldn’t impact on services as the money is not intended for service delivery, but purely for training doctors of the future.”

The loss of the hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding, known as SIFT (Service Increment For Teaching), will ‘impact on services’ if the SIFT funding continues to be wasted. This action isn’t just the result of ‘feedback from this group of undergraduates in 2015’. The University of East Anglia (UEA) has been demanding improvement for years.

SIFT funding is supposed to be spent on additional medical resources (i.e. doctors) to provide backfill for those delivering teaching to protect the quality of front line NHS services. This happens in Suffolk, where undergraduates from the University of Cambridge are placed. But in Norfolk, the UEA’s SIFT funding was diverted to create two bureaucratic Deputy Medical Director posts at NSFT, which were then further extended to add a Director of Research. The money went to those who sit in meetings and eat biscuits. The former NSFT Operations Director and architect of the radical redesign, Kathy Chapman, refused to take individual teaching workloads into account during the disastrous radical redesign cuts. Some of UEA’s SIFT funding was diverted to West Norfolk which doesn’t even take UEA medical students. UEA’s SIFT money did not follow those who delivered teaching and, as a direct result, many doctors who taught UEA medical students felt unable to continue to do so due to the demands of their NHS work.

One of the doctors who benefited from the diverted SIFT money works in a service with long waiting lists. He costs that service a staggering £17,500 per month but claims to have time to deliver just one day per week of medical time to that service. But he does have time to be the clinical director of a private clinic. Two years ago, one of NSFT’s stakeholder’s took a course at UEA and regularly saw the same doctor swimming and enjoying long lunches in the Sainsbury Centre restaurant during working hours. The issue was raised at the highest levels of NSFT. Recently, a retired mental health professional met the same doctor in the UEA Sportspark, again swimming during working hours. Again, the issue was raised at the highest levels of NSFT. The doctor claims it is okay to go swimming and have long lunches during working hours while the service he costs £17,5000 per month has waiting lists because it is his ‘protected time’. Shameless.

Do the commissioners at the CCGs and Health Education England (HEE) intend £17,500 per month of taxpayers’ money to be spent to allow a doctor to go swimming and enjoy long lunches while patients are left on waiting lists and teaching is rated as unacceptable?

UEA and HEE certainly don’t think their money has been well spent. UEA doesn’t want to send its medical students from Norwich to South Essex and Northamptonshire for decent training but feels it has no choice. Now medical students as well as patients are being sent out of area.

With the loss of this SIFT funding, it is not front line clinical services that should be cut: it is the swimming, long lunches and biscuit-eating that should be eliminated.

Will the NSFT Board will take decisive action and hold to account those who have taken the SIFT funding and Clinical Excellence Awards (CEA) but failed to deliver?

Or will New Ways of Shirking continue?

What do you think?

Click on the image below to read Tom Bristow’s article in full on the EDP website:

7 thoughts on “EDP: Norfolk and Suffolk mental health trust loses cash and UEA medical students amid training concerns”

  1. And the CQC thought the Trust had improved enough to come out of special measures?????

    We cannot trust NSFT and now we cannot trust the CQC…….what’s left?

  2. Paying £17,500 a month to a consultant to conduct leisure activities during the working day is another example of poor management by NSFT. Who is monitoring this sort of malingering at the Trust? Why did neither the CQC nor NHS Improvement highlight such practices in their highly expensive reports during their inspections? Why does the highly paid Chief Executive Officer and the Trust’s Medical Director not stop this sort of time wasting? Are the non-executive directors hiding behind Trust strategies while the nurses are slogging their guts out? Thanks to the campaign for bringing this sort of financial abuse to the attention of the public.

  3. this is the same consultant that gets to spend time in St Georges in the Caribbean annually  to support overseas medical students paid for by the public purse . Too many NSFT psychiatrists travelling abroad , either paid or given the time to attend and claim expenses for conferences , when other clinical staff are told they can’t access even the cheapest of external training courses.

    Psychiatrists contracts should be activity based , that would cut out this protected time  argument , the NHS would get better value for money and making it more difficult to earn clinical excellence awards which with the existing financial pressures should be suspended . There are plenty of NSFT Doctors who work the majority of their time in the private sector , but are paid by the NHS for expensive conferences or training.   Some dishonest  managers who are directors in private enterprises not declaring conflicts of interest too,   NHS protect could have a field day if they were to audit the misuse of the expenses at NSFT, and look at how much NHS funding indirectly supports these unscrupulous practices. It seems the  NSFT BOD allow this to continue unchallenged , there is no sense of anyone taking accountability or responsibility for any of this.  I agree it’s shameful !

    Monitor & cqc should be held to account too for their incompetence letting this organisation out of special measures. It is a complete travesty.

    Thank goodness I am no longer working there , wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

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