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Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Inspectors report 'significant concerns' as NHS trust rated inadequate for third time

Written by Sam Russell

A mental health trust has been rated inadequate for a third time, with records of patients harming themselves while waiting to be seen.

Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found "significant concerns" when it inspected Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust in September.

The trust was under-staffed, some wards were found to be unsafe, and there were instances of people with "significant needs" being denied a service, a report said.

Inspectors have recommended that it remains in special measures.

It was first put in special measures in 2015, was removed from them in 2016 but returned to the status in 2017.

Dr Paul Lelliott (pictured), the CQC's lead for mental health, said: "Managers have not ensured that, when things go wrong, they learn and share lessons to reduce the likelihood of the same thing happening again.

"The trust leadership must take robust action now to ensure that improvements are made."

He noted: "There were instances of people who had significant needs being denied a service and records showed some patients harmed themselves while waiting for contact from clinical staff."

The trust has been told it must ensure there are enough qualified staff to care for people, ensure that risks to patients are mitigated and it must address actions recommended in previous inspections, going back as far as 2014.

Some "isolated examples" of outstanding practice were found, including on the child and adolescent mental health wards.

Trust chief executive Antek Lejk said action is being taken to address concerns.

"Our priorities now will be to resolve ongoing issues around access to services, waiting lists, care planning and staffing levels, while also making sure we have the right systems in place to ensure patient safety at all times," he said.

"Such wide-scale transformation will take time and will not always be smooth, but we remain committed to making the necessary changes in the right way so that we can ensure our services provide safe, effective care for everyone in Norfolk and Suffolk."

The Care Quality Commission has called on NHS Improvement to support the trust to make the "immediate changes necessary to keep patients safe".

The trust will continue to be monitored and faces further inspections.

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