This is the open letter to the Trust board of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust that kicked off the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in our two counties.
This open letter is being presented to the directors of Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) by members of the campaign at the NSFT Board Meeting in Bury St Edmunds today. We are doing what we agreed at our first meeting and challenging the Board to change or be removed. The Board has lost the confidence of service users, staff and the public. Our opinion poll shows that 96% visitors to the campaign website believe that the NSFT Board is incompetent.
Print this letter, give it to friends and colleagues, put it up on noticeboards, in cafés and on the back of the bathroom doors. Forward a link to this page to everyone who will be concerned about the crisis at Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT). Contribute in our forums and help us expose the crisis in mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk.
OPEN LETTER TO NSFT BOARD OF DIRECTORS
There is a serious crisis in the delivery of mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk. Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has challenged the use of the word ‘crisis’ but in so doing has shown how far out of touch it is with the views of its own service-users, carers and front-line staff. The recent extensive media coverage, both local and national, dating back to at least last August, also gives the lie to the Trust’s official statements. The warnings from the emergency services and professional bodies such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists should be heeded. Over 300 people attended our launch meeting on 25th November (many more could not get in) and a resolution of no confidence in the management of the Trust was passed unanimously. Given this, the NSFT Board of Directors should either take urgent action to rectify a situation which is in danger of spiraling downwards, or resign.
In order to restore some degree of confidence, the Trust needs to act quickly in six key areas:
- Call a halt to the policy of bed closures and reopen wards wherever possible, until community services can actually show in practice that a number of inpatient beds are not needed.
- Withdraw the proposal to reduce the number of qualified Band 6 staff in the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment (CRHT) teams. Continue with the proposed policy of boosting the home treatment capacity by employing more support workers. Give priority to providing a sufficient level of medical input to CRHTs so that access to a psychiatrist is readily available in a crisis.
- Restore link workers and carry out an urgent review of the role of Access and Assessment teams, especially in relation to CRHTs.
- Restore Early Intervention In Psychosis (EI) teams in Suffolk, in line with the Department of Health and Schizophrenia Commission recommendations.
- Establish a caseload management system so that care coordinators and lead professionals in community teams do not carry individual responsibility for excessive workloads.
- Carry out an urgent review of the prevention of suicide strategy, which should include a major rethink around the abolition of specialist assertive outreach and homeless persons’ teams.
The Trust board members need to ask themselves why there is such a gulf between their perception of the state of affairs and that of front-line staff and service users. Denying that a problem exists will not bring about a solution. The Trust, the CCGs, Health Minister Norman Lamb, have all been in denial for some time. It’s no longer good enough to blame one another. We need decisive action from all. If you cannot provide it, you should go!
On behalf of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk on 19/12/2013