December 11 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 3, 2013
The mental health trust for Norfolk and Suffolk is in the “eye of the storm” of its major restructure and its most happiest members of staff are the ones leaving the organisation, governors said.
Members of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s board of governors spoke of their concern yesterday about the morale of its workforce.
The mental health trust is in the process of cutting around 400 jobs as part of a major overhaul of services, which will reduce the organisation’s budget by 20pc. The health trust is planning to reduce the number of inpatient beds across Norfolk and Suffolk by 20pc by 2016 as part of its service strategy.
Staff governor Duncan Double said the recruitment of a new leader following the resignation of chief executive Aidan Thomas in the summer would potentially help raise staff morale.
“Some of the happiest staff are the ones that have taken voluntary redundancy at the moment. The trust’s service strategy has been a major reorganisation with several staff having to reapply for their own job and it is not always clear why. Asking them to do more with less is not sustainable in the long-term and the general feedback we get is there are not enough staff,” he said.
Bosses have already made 172 redundancies, with 61 of them compulsory. Part of the restructure has included the creation of a single access to assessment service for GPs to refer patients when they need mental health services.
Gary Page, chairman of the mental health trust, said the organisation needed to be more clear with its information to staff. “We do not underestimate how difficult this period is and they do not want to be told that everything is okay and they do not want sugarcoated messages. I do not think we have always got communication right and we need to put support mechanisms in place. There are some exciting things out there and the financial position of the trust is pretty solid and we have gone through difficult times,” he said.
Non-executive director Stuart Smith added: “We are in the eye of the storm and we need to get a little more dynamic.”
Peter Jefferys, another non-executive director, said that the care and commitment of front-line staff remained high, despite low morale.
Andrew Hopkins, interim chief executive, added that the restructure included the creation of dementia intensive support teams so that more people with dementia could be cared for within their own homes.
“We think they will deliver a better service and we are partway through the changes and we have to regroup around why we are doing it and put patients first,” he said.
Mr Hopkins added that the trust’s access and assessment service in Suffolk had suffered some teething problems following its launch in July. He added that the backlog of patients waiting for triage was more than 900 at one point this summer. However, the trust had put extra staff on duty and the backlog of patients waiting longer than 28 days following GP referral was now down to 300.