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

Mental health. Pictured: A young man experiencing depression sits by a window. Picture: Newscast Online

Mental health. Pictured: A young man experiencing depression sits by a window. Picture: Newscast Online

Newscast Online

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.

NSFT chief executive Julie Cave. Photo: NSFT NSFT chief executive Julie Cave. Photo: NSFT

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.

Dr Irene Lampert was a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist with NSFT, she left in 2014 after she said she was “unable to cope any longer with the management style, shortage of staff and the risks clinicians were forced to take”.

She said she still knew many ex-colleagues working there, who told her things had not changed.

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 agreeagree were better off gone.

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

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.”

‘Move on from discussions from five years ago’

NSFT chief executive Julie Cave said she had “complete confidence and determination” the trust would improve and the culture had changed.

She said: “The ‘radical redesign’, or Trust Service Strategy (TSS), was a set of proposals put forward five years ago in 2012. It was designed in response to national drivers demanding that NHS trusts make services as efficient as possible, including making significant cost savings.

“TSS was also designed at a time when huge changes were being seen in local NHS, with CCGs emerging in 2013. And NSFT was a new organisation. However, the board has apologised for some of the early TSS decisions which were implemented and recognised the effect some of those may have had on the quality of our services and our staff. TSS is not an approach we are taking today or, indeed for many years, and we are trying to move on from discussions relating to five years ago, and look forward.”

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