“It is not your job to lie on behalf of employers”: Unison writes to reassure NSFT staff members ahead of CQC Inspection


NHS staff at Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) shouldn’t need reassurance before the regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), visits, should they?

There are rumours of ill-advised messages, communications and even the threat of disciplinary proceedings by some NSFT managers in the run-up to the CQC inspection.

Bullying and harassment of staff at NSFT was highlighted by the results of the NHS Staff Survey.

NSFT has produced its own expensive newsletter about the CQC visit.


It contains this message:


Hardly Francis Report, is it?

Here is the letter from Tracey Lambert of Unison:

Unison logo


Care Quality Commission visiting the Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.


Next week the Care Quality Commission will be visiting the Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

The past months have been difficult for the Trust and its employees. Many members have contacted the local branch as they are fearful and anxious in relation to the impending visit.

This anxiety has not been helped by some of the information relating to the visit sent out by some managers.

However UNISON wants to reassure you in relation to the inspection. The CQC want to hear from staff and they want staff to inform them about the great work you undertake under difficult circumstances.

You should feel free to say exactly what you want to say about the care being delivered by the staff to patients.

If you have positive accounts, good, if it is not so positive, tell them but be respectful and truthful. It is not your job to lie on behalf of employers.

I am also able to advise you that Gail Adams UNISON’s Head of Nursing will be visiting the Trust next week meeting with UNISON members branch reps about their experiences working at the Trust.

The local branch representatives will be advising members of the details of her visit.

Yours Sincerely


Tracey Lambert
Regional Head of Health

If you have any further questions in relation to the CQC or Gails visit please contact:
Carol Briggs, Lynn Wall, Emma Corlett

12 thoughts on ““It is not your job to lie on behalf of employers”: Unison writes to reassure NSFT staff members ahead of CQC Inspection”

  1. If senior management have nothing to hide, why “DON’T give the inspection team information they haven’t asked for”? Surely any truthful information would help produce a well-rounded and objective report?

    Yes, it  would. Unfortunately it would also show those same managers to be self-serving, incompetent, and [Sadly, redacted for legal reasons]. It would show NSFT to be an organisation where bullying and summary dismissals for not “toeing the Party line” are commonplace.

    Personally, I’m praying that the CQC inspection team sees these people for the opportunist and inept chancers they are!


  2. If you have any real evidence of any of these allegations why don’t you publish it. Calling anyone corrupt is a serious allegation!

  3. Whilst I broadly agree with the aims of the Campaign having suffered and been put at risk as a Service User due to the funding cuts, radical redesign rubbish, etc I would also like to see some balance in what is published on this website as it is always negative and critical.

    To modify the “don’t give what is not asked for” above I think the Campaign is guilty of “not giving the public positive news when it is merited”, and particularly when it could shine a light on the excellence of the staff. The most recent example is this report:


    which is a very encouraging item about how the dedication and professionalism of STAFF at the Trust is being recognised at a national level (note, it is not in recognition of senior management, etc). Reporting such things would help counter negative portraits of the staff which might be forthcoming from the Trust, etc. Not reporting such things could become self defeating.

    Unfortunately the Campaign seems to just want to criticise, criticise, criticise which puts me off becoming involved. Constant negativity gets one nowhere.

  4. Sorry “Colin”, I must have missed the part where  “DON’T give the inspection team information they haven’t asked for” was a legitimate stance from a public body. Might I paraphrase as: “DO withhold information and informed comment on the grounds that doing otherwise might rock our cushy little boat…” ?

    I don’t think the adjective I used was in any way harsh. Or did I mis-read the communication published above?

  5. John, I must admit that I haven’t read the Campaign website end to end but I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t contain criticisms of the staff, only the lack of resources made available to them and the appalling way in which they’re managed.

  6. Please re-read what I wrote.  At no point did I suggest that the Campaign was, had or should criticise staff; just that the website as a whole is just criticism.  Rather I suggested that such positive stories as indicated would highlight how good the staff are, and counter anything the Trust and/or senior management might say or do to impugn the good names and reputations of staff, either in public or at work via bullying, criticism, memos, telling them not to speak, etc (Oh!  I’ve just expanded a bit).

  7. I think it is really difficult if you are trying to engage with an organisation like NSFT and you have tried all the avenues for dialogue with those who ultimately make the decisions but to no avail.  It was only after senior management were put under regular pressure from the articles on the website, Twitter and once their legal team advised them they had no form of recourse that they began to make noises about listening to what the Campaign had to say.  Staff are under daily pressure from lack of resources and staffing whilst caseload are increasing.  Budget cuts continue to rip holes in services – removing some altogether and placing people’s lives at risk.  I admire the frontline staff working under such challenging conditions but I also applaud the Campaign for continuing to highlight the issues.  Absolutely there are success stories and staff out there going above and beyond for their patients but as a parent whose child has been and continues to be failed by a service which is underfunded, stretched to breaking point and has had vital services removed as part of the “radical redesign” I thank the Campaign for continuing to fight and I hope they won’t stop until a service is provided which is fit for purpose.  The point of the website is that anyone can comment or start a thread – if people want good news then start a thread with some.  Why not showcase the great work of frontline staff but let’s not lose sight of the fact that until a culture of openness, honesty and accountability of management exists this remains a place where problems and concerns can be expressed without fear of recrimination.  I’d much rather know what the problems are as it places me in a more informed position when discussing the care of my child.

  8. I agree with John. It’s time to stop the negativity. It is obvious at the core of many issues is the fact that in many parts of the Trust are underfunded. Why not focus on trying to persuade the CCGs to start to close the funding gap with physical health specifically the vast sums being spent on Acute Trusts? Why not focus on funding primary care (including mental health) and therefore prevention?

  9. If you became actively involved with the Campaign, Colin, you would know that since the Campaign started we have been actively lobbying the CCGs, writing letters to North Norfolk CCG who were the lead commissioners for mental health, and now to South Norfolk CCG who have taken over. We also attended every public consultation held by Healtheast CCG and made numerous constructive proposals. You could also poston the Website under “What makes a good mental health service?” We have also lobbied Norman Lamb and written to and met with him on numerous occasions, and it could be said that the pressure we have exerted has brought mental health to the forefront and forced Clegg and Lamb to come up with their recent plans for mental health and the pathetic (sorry to be negative) £120 million for all Trusts  over the next 2 years, while of course still proceeding with the 1.8% cost savings, which according to the Trust’s own projections will lead to £44 million of cuts over the next 5 years in NSFT alone. Negativity will stop once patients receive the care they need in the Community, when patients in need of urgent inpatient treatment can receive it locally without delay. Many of us in the Campaign are front-line staff and we see the good work that goes on; but we also see good staff who are forced to work to an unacceptable standard because of staff cuts. The public have a right to know about this just as they had a right to know about the huge amounts of money wasted by NSFT on unnecessary redundancies, agency staff to replace them and out of area beds. The Campaign seeks to protect front-line staff from being scapegoated by management for not following policies and protocols which given staff shortages are impossible to meet. When the Campaign started NSFT were denying any crisis; ” We have enough beds” was one quote, and were claiming that they were enhancing community services; now at least the Trust is saying openly that they do not have enough funds to provide a safe service. This is positive.

  10. Is it conicidence that “stop the negativity” only features in the week the CQC inspection is happening?  What I know about the Campaign is that they work tirelessly to try and improve the service that is provided,.  I’ve seen the staff involved in my child’s care become more and more stressed as time has gone on – buckling under impossible caseloads, far too few resources and yet still trying to help families day in/day out keep their children alive.  Staff are going off sick or leaving for complete changes in career because of the pressure they now face under the radical redesign.  If you care that much about mental health provision then get involved with the Campaign – theyre always on the lookout for more volunteers and helpers.  It’s not fair to knock the very people trying to change the service and save lives and as Terry has noted above they do far more than just this website.  I take my hat off to them!

  11. As someone who has been involved with the campaign since the very beginning, I would like to reiterate that we have asked the trust to post anything positive that they have achieved on our website. It may always seem negative on here but us in the campaign are aware of the disgusting waste of money that is being spent on things other than services to those that need them. The radical redesign has taken away many services and left many people with nothing. The campaign wants to improve services to all users, carees and staff and we have nothing but admiration for the staff that work under immense pressure, yet are not allowed to talk about it due to fear of reprisals. We are a voice that is getting heard. (Service user).

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