'Stumbling' trust takes flak

PUBLISHED: 10:00 13 May 2009 | UPDATED: 13:54 03 July 2010

The NHS trust in charge of health services in Yarmouth and Waveney has come under fire again, this time facing an accusation that it stumbles “from one crisis to another”.

The NHS trust in charge of health services in Yarmouth and Waveney has come under fire again, this time facing an accusation that it stumbles “from one crisis to another”.

NHS Yarmouth and Waveney, the primary care trust (PCT) that organises and pays for health services in its area, saw the sudden departure recently of its chief executive, Mike Stonard. It was given no stars by the Audit Commission in the autumn and received one of the worst scores in the country in a report on commissioning of services.

The health scrutiny committee for Yarmouth and Waveney gave the trust a rough ride at its meeting yesterday.

Committee chairman Janice Eells, who also chairs Norfolk's health scrutiny committee, said: “You seem to be stumbling from one crisis to another and going nowhere. Your PCT is fragmented: there is no doubt about it. It is a disgrace how this has been going on.”

The trust was criticised for its failure to have made up its mind on returning beds for dementia patients to Yarmouth, as well as for delays in drawing up a new ME service.

James Elliott, director of commissioning and planning, said later: “We have gone through a period of some change.

“We are very clear that we have put in place new processes and systems to improve our delivery and performance and we increasingly look to improve. It is painful at times, but we have had a huge number of successes over the last couple of years, including dentistry and opening the new health centre in Yarmouth.”

The old people's mental health ward at Northgate Hospital, Yarmouth, was closed 18 months ago and the beds moved to Carlton Court at Lowestoft, where patients are further from friends and family. The trust has offered to pay for taxis for relatives, but there has been little take-up.

Yesterday, councillors said they had been told at the time it would be a temporary solution for three years, but a decision has still to be made on the future.

Chris Humphris, deputy director of commissioning at the trust, said it was drawing up proposals ready for formal consultation in October. He said it had been waiting for the government's dementia strategy to be published, as well as working with neighbouring trusts. But Winterton councillor Shirley Weymouth said: “I think we were hoodwinked when we were told that was a temporary thing to go to Carlton Court.”

Mrs Eells said: “We are being fed a lot of words over a series of issues and you have gone away not meaning anything of what is being said. I am very sad to think you take us so flippantly.”

And patient representative Patrick Thompson said: “Patients do not sit at home waiting for a plan: they need it now.”

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