Norfolk and Suffolk health trust in special measures

Exterior view of Hellesdon Hospital Image copyright Andy Parrett/Geograph
Image caption The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust is based at Hellesdon Hospital on the outskirts of Norwich

A mental health trust has become the first in England to be put in special measures.

NHS regulator Monitor will help support the management at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to deliver an action plan.

The decision comes after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) reported the trust was "not a safe... service".

Special measures means a director will be attached to the trust to ensure the improvement plan is carried out.

External experts will work with the existing senior management team at the trust to resolve its problems.

Image caption The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust has a number of mental health wards across the counties

Trust chief executive Michael Scott said special measures would be the first step "on the road to recovery".

"Although disappointing, it is not a surprise to us, coming as it does after the CQC's recommendations were made in January.

"We recognise the need to improve the care we provide and we need to carefully manage our finances to a healthier position.

"We welcome the the additional support we'll get through this process."

An inspection by the CQC identified a number of serious issues, including concerns about the safety of services, staffing levels and leadership at the trust.

Monitor has also imposed a new condition on Norfolk and Suffolk's licence, enabling the regulator to take further action, such as replacing members of the trust's leadership team if the required improvements are not made swiftly for patients.

'Financial black hole'

Katherine Cawley, regional director at Monitor, said: "Patients in Norfolk and Suffolk 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."

Image caption Michael Scott, NSFT's chief executive, said special measures would be the first step "on the road to recovery"

A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health in Norfolk and Suffolk said the decision was "inevitable following the damning CQC inspection and the financial black hole".

"We share with Monitor a common aim: the quickest possible turnaround of NSFT for the benefit of patients," he added.

The CQC report, published at the beginning of the month, said there were also concerns about a lack of beds and that "urgent action" was needed.

But it also said: "Staff were kind, caring and responsive to people and were skilled in the delivery of care."

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