Mental health trust boss retires from post

Lynn's Fermoy unit
Lynn's Fermoy unit
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The head of the troubled organisation responsible for mental health services in West Norfolk has left his post.

Michael Scott, whose immediate retirement as chief executive of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust was announced on Thursday, says he is “proud” of its work under his leadership.

But campaigners say sweeping reform is needed to address the trust’s failings.

Trust chairman Gary Page said it had been a “privilege” to work with Mr Scott, who took up the role three and a half years ago.

He said: “We have recently undergone our third CQC inspection and as we await the inspection report, Michael feels now is the appropriate time for a new leader to take forward the recommendations that will follow in order to continue to improve our Trust.

“As he leaves our Trust, we are in a financially stronger position, with improved service user and carer feedback and improved staff morale.

“Mental health is now top of the local and national agenda and our STPs are showing strong progress in the mental health work streams.”

Mr Scott himself added: “I will remain committed to the NHS, and will always be a champion of NSFT and of improving mental health.

“I am proud of what has been achieved by the dedicated staff at NSFT over the past three-and-a-half years.

“I would like to thank my colleagues across health and social care for their collective hard work, and for the fact that every day they do the very best job they can to support the people who need our services.”

But, although the trust was taken out of special measures last autumn, Mr Scott’s tenure has been dogged by crisis, including a doubling of levels of unexpected deaths over the past four years.

In a statement responding to the announcement, the Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Crisis campaign group said recent board papers showed the number of patients sent outside the trust area for treatment had risen by seven times between April and August this year.

Although the trust is planning to spend £4.5 million on a new 16-bed unit at Chatterton House in Lynn, it is intended to replace the current facility at the Fermoy unit and will only offer the same number of beds as those that are currently available.

The group said: “Mental health services have to be properly resourced as well as competently managed. Our politicians need to make sure local commissioners and NHS England provide enough money, beds and staff for decent mental health services.

“We fear that Michael Scott’s departure precedes the publication of a new and devastating CQC report in the next few days.

“We do not believe his departure alone will be sufficient to stop the rot and the NHS and government needs to commit to doing everything to put matters right at NSFT.

“The people of Norfolk and Suffolk have been let down and ignored for far too long.”

Mr Scott’s current deputy Julie Cave is expected to be formally appointed as interim chief executive at a governors’ meeting later this month.