Suffolk MPs met with health bosses to discuss the future of the region's failing NHS mental health trust. - Credit: House of Commons/Office of James Cartlidge MP
Suffolk MPs yesterday met with health bosses to discuss the future of the region's failing NHS mental health trust.
MPs met with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) chair Zoe Billingham, minister of state for care and mental health Gillian Keegan, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and NHS England to discuss the future of the trust.
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge said it was "reassuring to hear that the trust has an 'open mind' to future configuration options".
He added: "I, along with a number of East Anglian colleagues, believe that there is no confidence left in the trust and after so many negative reports a structural change is needed."
Mr Cartlidge supports separating the trust's services along the lines of the new integrated care systems (ICS) models, splitting Norfolk and Suffolk mental health provision into separate counties.
At the meeting, it was confirmed that this is already being considered within community provision, particularly for voluntary mental health services, but that some specialist services would not be viable if split down the middle.
He added: "This shouldn't preclude looking in earnest at separating other services where possible so that accountability for community mental health moves from this failing trust to the new ICS bodies who, after all, will have the responsibility to deliver some such services whatever is agreed."
Mr Cartlidge believes that moving services closer to the communities will put "prevention at the heart of local mental health provision", creating "less onerous demand" in the long term.
As for moving forward from the meeting, he added: "As it is, the reputational damage caused to this trust, and its constant need to escape negative inspection measures, means that we have to now see a fundamental change.
"That's why an open mind from all stakeholders concerned is so important - we have to consider every possible option for how to deliver services in future, or we will never get out of this rut."
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt was also in attendance at the meeting, but said he was "not satisfied" with the discussions.
Mr Hunt said: "How many more times do we need to be told that NSFT is 'inadequate' by the CQC? I was prepared for a full and frank discussion about the future of mental health in Suffolk but the default view was that it is going to continue in its current form."
Previously, Mr Hunt has shown support for placing NSFT into special measures in the short term to allow for dramatic changes and a fresh new organisation to be built.
Mr Hunt left the online meeting after an hour, saying he had "said [his] piece" and would be seriously considering his attendance at the next meeting should they fail to make commitments to urgent action.
He also objected to the presence of NSFT chair Zoe Billingham, saying "this meeting should be about the future of the trust. We've had meetings with representatives from the trust present before. To me, it doesn't seem any different from the last meeting."
Having been in the role less than a year, Mr Poulter said "she has inherited a difficult situation and relied on her executive team for their medical and clinical backgrounds".
Ms Billingham met with NSFT staff yesterday, following a letter from more than 140 doctors saying they "lack confidence" in the organisation's leadership.
She tweeted: "Good to talk to many of our hard-working, overstretched doctors yesterday to hear their concerns, analysis and clearly stated wish to be fully involved in taking our improvement forward.
"You will be - that's a promise. We can only get better if we do this together."
Published by the East Anglian Daily Times.