The trust responsible for mental health care in West Norfolk has been put into special measures for a second time.
Inspectors say the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has failed to address a number of major concerns, some of which date back up to three years.
The announcement by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) comes just a fortnight after NSFT chief executive, Michael Scott, announced his retirement from the role.
Although the trust was originally deemed inadequate in October 2014, it was taken out of special measures last year.
The latest report, which follows an inspection carried out in July, did rate the trust as good for whether its services were caring.
But it was deemed to require improvement for effectiveness and inadequate for whether they were safe and well led.
Ted Baker, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said the latest verdict was “very disappointing”.
He said: “The trust board had not taken the action required to ensure that all its wards were safe environments for patient care, that clinical teams had a sufficient number of staff , or that staff assessed and managed risk adequately.
“People did not always receive the right care at the right time due to a shortage of beds and sometimes people had been moved, discharged early, or managed within an inappropriate service.
“Our concerns were compounded by the fact that the trust board did not have the information it needed to assure itself that the care provided was safe or of a good quality.
“Without this information, we were not assured that the board would be able to take the action necessary to improve services.
“This is why I am recommending the trust is placed into special measures and receives further support to enable it to improve, and ensure any improvements are embedded and sustained.
“The trust leadership, including the new interim chief executive, must ensure it takes robust action to ensure improvements are made and we will continue to monitor the trust closely. This will include further inspections.”
At the time of Mr Scott’s retirement announcement, mental health campaigners said they feared the move would precede a “new and devastating report” into the trust.
His successor as chief executive, Julie Cave, said the trust accepted the findings and was taking urgent action to respond to them.
She said: “Anyone who cares about mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk is going to be disappointed in these results, as we are at NSFT.
“In short, we have not made enough significant improvements over the past year and that has resulted in this retrograde step in our CQC ratings and in our progress.
“For that we apologise to our staff, to our service users and carers, and to our stakeholders.
“We know our dedicated staff will offer their continued support in helping us to put things right and to achieve the improvements we need to make at a greater pace over the coming months.
“We are determined to ensure that our local mental health services continue to improve in what we all recognise as an increasingly demanding environment in the NHS and in social care, with more people suffering mental ill health than ever before, and with more complex needs, while our resources remain under huge pressure.
“Our teams have been working incredibly hard to continue to keep our services safe and of high quality for our service users and we should note that today’s report does not mean we have made no improvements.
“The CQC report also comments on how caring our staff are, stating that patients told them they felt ‘genuinely cared for’ and ‘supported’; that they ‘felt safe on our wards’; and that our community staff were ‘responsive to their needs, caring and treated them politely’...
“Our Board will remain focused. That is our responsibility and our commitment to our staff, to our service users and carers. We will continue to improve but we will do so with greater pace in order to deliver the quality of service that the people of Norfolk and Suffolk deserve.”