'Shock and anger' in north Norfolk over mental health trust failings

Mental health campaigners calling for an urgent boost in funding for services at a protest in Cromer earlier this year. 

Mental health campaigners calling for an urgent boost in funding for services at a protest in Cromer earlier this year. - Credit: Supplied by Martin Booth

A north Norfolk mental health campaigner said he was "shocked and angered" Norfolk and Suffolk's mental health trust has been rated the worst in the country.

Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission has given the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) an ‘inadequate’ rating, publishing a report which detailed over 100 unexpected deaths in two years.

Martin Booth, chairman of the Campaign for Mental Health Services in North Norfolk, said MPs should demand a major funding boost for mental health in our region and the development of a "urgent anti-suicide strategy".

Martin Booth, chairman of the Campaign for Mental Health Services in North Norfolk.

Martin Booth, chairman of the Campaign for Mental Health Services in North Norfolk. - Credit: Archant

Mr Booth said: "Responsibility for this crisis needs to be laid at the door of central government, which has refused to provide the resources needed to improve mental health ever since the major cuts programme - Radical Redesign - of 2013.

"Our campaign group has continually attempted to engage with NSFT management about the dire lack of mental health services in North Norfolk, yet despite numerous pledges and promises very little has actually been delivered."

Mr Booth said giving the trust's existing management team time to change independently would not help. But he also said changing its senior management was not the answer, given the trust has already had eight chief executives in the past decade. 

Mr Booth said health commissioners should take responsibility for working with the trust on recruitment and retention of staff.

He said: "Otherwise we will keep having the same conversations year in and year out, and people will continue to suffer and die."

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North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said he did not back calls for a  disbanding or a restructure of the trust.

Mr Baker said: "I have my doubts about breaking up the organisation at this moment in time, when we have never had a long-term period of stability in leadership, and when the trust is facing an enormous amount of demand."

An NHS East of England spokesperson said: “The trust remains in the recovery support programme and will continue to receive intensive and targeted help. 

“We have seen evidence of improvement previously, and the support programme and action plan will continue to ensure further progress and concentrate on fixing issues for patients.”