The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

One of the more positive outcomes of the recent shenanigans at Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust is the focus on the Freedom To Speak Up (FTSU) process.

Although the trust has much work to do to rebuild confidence in its leadership following the recent revelations about serious governance failings, it is encouraging that action was taken when concerns were raised through FTSU.

However, more needs to be done.

The trust’s board, which met in public for the first time since HSJ revealed the failings, was told there have been a “flurry” of concerns raised through FTSU.

Directors acknowledged that some staff “might not have had the best experience” after raising concerns through FTSU, and a trust report on the topic has raised questions about the culture of the organisation.

In response, the trust has pledged to support both whistleblowers and – importantly – the people who have concerns raised against them.

With new interim CEO Matthew Patrick and acting chair Margaret Schwarz both committing to a culture of openness, fairness and transparency, staff at CPFT will be hoping the worst is over.

Not over yet

More problems have been detected at a mental health trust which only last month saw core services downgraded to “inadequate” by inspectors.

An internal review was carried out into Tees Esk and Wear Valleys FT’s therapy services following the “unexpected” deaths of 13 patients – six of which were suicides. 

The review found that a lack of family involvement in discussing risks, increased waiting times for face-to-face therapy, and a lack of contact or reassessment for patients on waiting lists were common issues with the service.

And in another review into the trust’s affective disorder services in Stockton, following the suicide of one person who used the service in early 2020, more issues were highlighted, including delays for patients trying to access treatment.

It comes after the Care Quality Commission downgraded five adult and intensive care wards at three of TEWV’s hospitals to “inadequate” last month. The trust is also facing an independent inquiry, ordered by NHS England, into the deaths of two inpatients in 2019.

TEWV told HSJ it has made improvements to its therapy services over the last six months, with reduced waiting times and increased family input and risk assessments.