17. may 2022 at 13:08
In light of the region’s failing mental health services, there is an EDP manifesto to improve care and delivery in Norfolk and Suffolk.
See if you can detect a reversal …
- Fairer financing
- End the stigma
- No other locations outside the area
- Encourage schools to play their part
- Reduce waiting times
- Look for confidence from special measures
- No more lotteries with zip codes
- Work as one trust
- Reduce agency staff spending
- Raise awareness
Have you guessed it yet?
If not, the reversal is this:
You actually compiled this list after a few weeks of studying the sector and talking to patients and staff about the issues they face.
But the list was compiled in 2015.
After seven years, it is sad to say that most of the list is now as relevant as it was then.
This is because, unfortunately, in the years when EDP launched the Mental Health Watch campaign as a commitment to fully address this issue in our newspapers and online, very little has changed in terms of care and treatment in this region.
We have seen an improvement in people’s general awareness of mental illness, the stigma around the problem has dropped and some schools have done a really great job of taking over the baton.
However, while the region’s main service provider, the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, has temporarily climbed to a higher rating in the Care Quality Commission (CQC), it has now been immersed back in special measures for the fourth time in ten years.
And while it is easy to dismiss such assessments and claim to be irrelevant, they are backed by a litany of failures and ultimately preventable deaths.
This was shown on our hard-hit front page on the day the last rating dropped, showing only some of the lives that were lost where subsequent hearings found that trust care in some form or form was lacking.
As I said earlier in this column, covering such cases can be difficult. Hard-working and dedicated caregivers will be questioned and identified, even if it is a system that has disappointed them rather than their own mistakes.
In fact, the latest CQC report praised the staff and how much they cared.
But we believe that if we do not cover such cases, how can we ensure that change ever happens? How else can responsible powers be held accountable to make sure they act?
It is frustrating to admit that such articles do not seem to have had the intended impact on this subject, because we have been emphasizing the same problems here for many years.
So what should be done about it?
When such failures are identified in the public sector, there is often a sharp response to calls for change at the very top of the organization. A change may be needed here.
And while I think many of those in charge of the NSFT over the years could and should have done better – my guilt changed when new people were appointed, but shortcomings continue.
I often considered the role of trust management an impossible task.
I can’t imagine where you would start with something so complex and so multi-layered. Throw in a budget cut, staff issues, and any other possible issues, and I know it’s definitely not a job I’d ever be able to choose.
So if it’s not potentially responsible people, maybe it’s something more inherently ingrained than that? Maybe it’s the size of a trust that covers two large districts with very different problems. Maybe it’s a structure? Maybe it’s something completely different?
Whatever it is, a solution needs to be found. There are lives lost and families broken up.
That is why I fully support the calls for a public inquiry to find out why this deplorable situation is taking so long.