• MP and governor call for special administrator to be appointed
  • CQC says concerns over care quality date back as far as 2014
  • CQC told the BBC it had not ruled out asking the secretary of state to appoint an administrator

Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust is facing calls to be put into the NHS failure regime after being kept in special measures and rated “inadequate” again following a Care Quality Commission inspection.

The CQC inspection report, published today, has sparked calls from MPs and local patient groups for the government to intervene and appoint a special administrator.

Inspectors rated the trust “inadequate” overall, “inadequate” for whether services were safe, responsive and well-led, and “requires improvement” for whether services are effective. It was rated “good” for whether services were caring.

Inspectors raised concerns about staff shortages, instances of people with significant needs being denied a service and records showing patients had harmed themselves while waiting for contact from clinical staff.

CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health Paul Lelliott said the trust’s principle concerns were around the safety of the community mental health services, where patients were waiting too long and the trust was failing to adequately identify patients in need of urgent treatment.

He said: “We found that insufficient improvements had been made and we still had significant concerns. At our inspection in 2017, we raised concerns about safety, culture and leadership and told the trust it must take urgent action to put things right. Some of these were issues that we first raised with the trust in 2014.

“We were therefore very disappointed to find that some of these concerns have still not yet been fully addressed.

“The trust leadership team has not taken action at the pace required to bring about sustained improvement and to resolve failings in safety. The people who depend on this trust for care and support deserve better.”

Labour MP for Norwich South Clive Lewis branded it “a national disgrace”. He told the BBC: “We are looking at a national and local system-wide failure of governance, commissioning, regulation and inspection.

“Unless we change course, I know exactly what’s coming next. Senior trust board members will mouth the same platitudes about lessons being learnt and plans for change – even though those same people have long track records of failure in various parts of the local NHS.”

Mr Lewis said regulators had “the power to put the trust into special administration and get rid of this board”.

A trust governor also called for a special administrator to be appointed.

Anne Humphrys, a trust governor and co-chair of the Suffolk carer network, told the BBC Today programme: “I think the CQC’s report is absolutely fair. I think we have reached a pivotal stage now. The CQC has been inspecting since 2014.

“It is obvious that the mental health services are not capable of improving. It’s not going to happen in a few weeks. I believe we now need to look at alternatives… I think we should be pressing for the intervention of the secretary of state and special administration.”

Dr Lelliott, also speaking on the programme, responded: “We certainly have not ruled out recommending to the secretary of state that he appoints a special administrator.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “NHS Improvement is providing intensive support to Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust to improve patient safety and deliver sustainable improvements. The situation is being monitored closely and we expect to see progress made in the coming weeks.”

Antek Lejk, chief executive of NSFT, said: “We are obviously disappointed with the CQC’s findings, but fully accept their report and its recommendations. Although we have been working hard to make improvements, we recognise that the actions we have taken so far have not resulted in the rapid progress which both the CQC and our trust had hoped for.

“Since receiving the draft report, we have been taking action to address the immediate concerns found by the CQC and listening to our staff and service users to make sure we fully understand the deeper challenges faced by the trust. This will allow our new senior management team to make long term, sustainable changes which are based on their knowledge and experience and also draw on best practice from across the wider NHS. We are determined to get things right.

“Our priorities now will be to resolve ongoing issues around access to services, waiting lists, care planning and staffing levels, while also making sure we have the right systems in place to ensure patient safety at all times. Such widescale transformation will take time and will not always be smooth, but we remain committed to making the necessary changes in the right way so that we can ensure our services provide safe, effective care for everyone in Norfolk and Suffolk.”