Special measures for mental health trust

There have been renewed calls for better mental health provision in Haverhill after the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) became the first mental health trust in the country to be put into special measures.

Urgent improvements are deemed to be needed for the care patients receive and measures to improve the trust’s performance will begin immediately. A Quality improvement plan will be put together for the trust to follow.

The NHS regulator, Monitor, is to send a team to take over the management of the trust following a report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) that rated the trust ‘inadequate’.

Katherine Cawley, Regional Director at Monitor, said: “Patients deserve to receive the highest possible care, and so the failings that the CQC has identified in the trust’s services are disappointing.

“We are pleased that the trust has already started to address some of the issues raised by the CQC, but much more needs to be done.”

Currently, there is no provision for mental health treatment within Haverhill itself. Patients must be referred by a GP to an access and assessment team, which will work out the patient’s needs and refer them to one of the trust’s facilities for treatment accordingly.

Emergency cases are triaged within four hours while more routine cases can take up to 28 days to be assessed.

The more acute care is delivered in units in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich, run by the NSFT. Some treatments can be delivered in the community by social workers or therapists who visit specially.

Ann Sisson, practice manager of Dr Selby & Partners GP, feared the poor results of the NSFT were due to a lack of money.

She said: “I think that this is to do with funding. You can’t run a service properly without any funds.

“They keep taking away and taking away. We’ve got an aging population and it’s such a huge area they [the NSFT] cover and everyone has different needs. Sometimes, some areas, like Haverhill, get left behind.

“If you have a mental health issue and you live in Haverhill, you would need to get referred on. You can call IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) for self-referral, but there’s quite a waiting list for that. It’s only for more minor issues anyway.

“When you get referred, it’s to one of the foundation trust’s facilities. It could be in Bury or Ipswich. I don’t think there’s anywhere close by that could help.”

Haverhill councillor, Anne Gower, was dismayed at the news.

She said: “It’s terrible news for people who are struggling to deal with mental health issues in this part of the country.

“These things are becoming more prevalent because of the pressures we’re all under these days. People need the support to help them.”