After being the first mental health service in the country to be placed under special measures 20 months ago, the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has been taken out of this category.
Following concerns about the mental health trust from financial pressures starting in 2012, the service was deemed “unsafe” and “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The trust’s rating has now been increased to “requires improvement” from its 2015 rating of “inadequate.”
The 2015 CQC report identified issues with insufficient staffing levels, concerns over restraint practice and accusations about the trust’s alarmingly high death rate.
The report acknowledged that the trust was not “compliant with controlled drug legislation” and that it “consistently maintained medication at wrong temperatures”, affecting the treatment of some patients and causing concern amongst friends, family and officials across the region.
However the CQC observed this year an environment that boasted “considerable progress.” The chief inspector of hospitals in England, Sir Mike Richards encouraged staff to be “proud of their achievements so far.”
He also said it was clear “significant improvement” had taken place across the trust, and thus recommended to NHS Improvement (NHSI) the removal of special measures.
For some though the recent improvements have proved to be too little too late, with a great number of dissatisfied campaigners disagreeing with the service’s claims that it is improving.
A spokesman for the group Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk suggested that huge concerns remain, and the CQC report is more worrying than reassuring.
He said, “the report still found a distinct lack of leadership, among other things such as staffing discrepancies and lack of beds, issues that are still a matter of great urgency.”