PERFORMANCE: Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust has become the first mental health trust to be placed into special measures, Monitor has announced.

The regulator took action against the trust after it was rated as ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission.

Inspectors “identified several areas of concern where the trust must make improvements”, according to a CQC report published earlier this month. These included low staff morale, lack of senior leadership support towards staff, and a lack of availability of beds.

Monitor has also imposed a new condition on its licence with the trust, which will allow it to take further action, such as replacing members of the trust’s leadership team if improvements are not made sufficiently quickly.

Monitor regional director Katherine Cawley 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.

“That’s why we have put Norfolk and Suffolk into special measures, to ensure that it gets the extra help and support it needs to make the improvements that are required.”

Trust chief executive Michael Scott said “although disappointing”, the announcement “is not a surprise to us” following the CQC’s recommendation that the trust to be placed into special measures.

“But as we made clear then, we recognise we need to improve the care we provide and we need to carefully manage our finances to a healthier position,” he added.

“We will achieve this by working closely with our staff and Monitor to address the issues we face.

“We have already started down the road to recovery and we welcome the additional support we’ll get through this process. We will be learning from other organisations and every single member of staff at this trust will have a part to play in getting us back on track.”

The trust last week announced it had withdrawn from the government’s Mutuals in Health pathfinder project to explore models of staff ownership.