'Radical steps' call to tackle Norfolk's failing mental health service

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Mental health services in Norfolk and Waveney were rated inadequate by inspectors. - Credit: PA

"Radical steps" are needed to give Norfolk people the mental health services they deserve, council leaders have said.

Last week, the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust was rated as inadequate in a highly critical report.

While front line staff were praised for being caring in their work, inspectors downgraded the trust to 'inadequate' by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

And leaders at Norfolk County Council have written to bosses at the trust - with a message that people "deserve much better".

Bill Borrett, the county council's cabinet member for adult social care and public health, gave a statement at a meeting of the council's cabinet on Tuesday, May 3.

He said: "The people of Norfolk, and those vulnerable people with mental health needs, deserve much better.

“I have written to the chairman of the trust to express the council’s concern, and will keep cabinet appraised of their plans for action."

Mr Borrett, who chairs the health and wellbeing board and is chair designate of the new Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Partnership, due to be established in July, said the council wanted to play a "constructive part" in improving the service.

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He said: "The county is entitled to expect radical steps now to ensure that the improvement process underway does deliver a sustained improvement.

“I will be talking to our NHS colleagues to explore how best the council can receive oversight and updates on the improvement, including possible reports to committees.”

But Emma Corlett, deputy leader of the opposition Labour group, said Mr Borrett's statement was "weak" and asked for his letter to the trust chairman to be published.

Councillor Emma Corlett

Emma Corlett, deputy leader of the Labour group at County Hall. - Credit: Archant

She said: "He says nothing about the need to tackle the fundamentally unfair way that mental health services are funded compared to physical health services."

She said his intention to "explore" how the council can get oversight and updates was "a complete joke", given the council had already received such updates through what she described as the "last 10 years of misery".

Trust chair Zoe Billingham has said the trust is "determined to make the required changes with pace and focus".

There have been calls to split the trust into two or for the Department of Health to take it over.