A man spent more than a week camping in the grounds of the NHS hospital where he had previously been treated,  leading critics to raise questions over its procedures.

The man was being treated at Hellesdon Hospital, which is run by the region's mental health trust, the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

He had previously been an in-patient at the hospital several months earlier, but is currently under the care of the trust's community team.

But in recent weeks, he began sleeping rough in the grounds of the Hellesdon site, using a tent.

Staff were sent an email informing them about his presence and urging them not to approach him.

He stayed in the grounds for between one and two weeks before he moved.

The situation has seen safeguarding questions asked of the trust, which has struggled with poor performance over the last decade and has been rated "inadequate" by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) four times in six years.

Campaigners questioned why the man was allowed to leave without assurances he had somewhere safe to go.

Norwich Evening News: Mark Harrison, chairman of the Campaign to Save Mental Health ServicesMark Harrison, chairman of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services (Image: Newsquest)

Mark Harrison, chairman of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services, said: "This type of thing does not surprise me - unsafe discharges have been picked up by the Care Quality Commission and by coroners in prevention of future death reports before.

"The fact this continues and that this is not isolated shows that NSFT continues to be institutionally dysfunctional. 

"It shows that more needs to be done that just replacing another chief executive - which is akin to parachuting in a new captain for the Titanic after it has already hit the iceberg."

A spokesman for NSFT said: "For the safety and privacy of our patients, it is not appropriate to comment on individual's care.

"As a trust, we have rigorous security and safety measures across our sites to ensure the highest standards of safety for our patients, staff and other service users.

"The care and treatment of those in the community is one of our top priorities.

"If anybody has any concerns, they can contact our customer services team for support via our website."