‘Culture transformation’ for troubled mental health trust

A mental health trust in East Anglia that has been repeatedly rated “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has launched the next phase of a project to turn itself around and ensure a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion.

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed the start of what it has described as the next phase of a “widespread project to transform its culture”.

“We all have a duty to call out unacceptable bad behavior when we see it”

Stuart Richardson

The trust reports carrying out listening events with staff over the past nine months and said it had recruited 60 “culture change agents” to advocate for a compassionate and supportive culture.

In addition, staff wellbeing, support and recognition initiatives have been set up and plans are in place for an independent Freedom to Speak Up service, it noted.

These steps have been taken as part of the trust’s zero-tolerance approach to racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying and harassment for both its workforce and the communities it serves.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust provides mental health services in the Suffolk Coastal constituency of new health secretary Thérèse Coffey.

It has been put into special measures and rated “inadequate” by the CQC on multiple occasions since 2014.

Most recently, the trust received an overall “inadequate” rating in April this year, based on inspections carried out in November and December 2021.

It was rated “inadequate” for being safe, effective and well-led, but rated “good” for being caring.

“Improving our culture is everyone’s responsibility”

Stuart Richardson

The trust was issued a warning notice by the CQC that set out 14 areas of concern in seven services.

Areas of concern included: staffing, mandatory training, supervision, appraisals, ligature, risk, incidents, observations, care and treatment, outcomes, privacy and dignity, medicines management, culture and governance.

Chief executive of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Stuart Richardson said: “Everybody who works at our trust has a part to play in creating an environment that supports our patients to receive excellent care and allows our staff to thrive and achieve their potential.

“We all have a duty to call out unacceptable bad behavior when we see it.

“To colleagues who have experienced it, I am sorry, and I promise we will do better. And I say to the small minority of people who think they can get away with it, that’s not the case anymore. “

Mr Richardson added: “We know culture change takes time and won’t happen overnight. It will take several years, and it won’t be easy, but together we will unite to achieve this.

“Improving our culture is everyone’s responsibility and only by working together can we find the solutions that we need to deliver long-term change for our service users and staff.”

All staff across the trust are being encouraged to support the transformation work by sharing their views, experiences and feedback to help develop improvements via an independent and anonymous online platform.

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