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Mental health trust boss asks service users to trust her during improvements

PUBLISHED: 17:58 22 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:58 22 January 2018

Julie Cave, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) chief executive. Photo: NSFT

Julie Cave, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) chief executive. Photo: NSFT

NSFT

The chief executive of the region’s mental health trust is urging patients to put their trust in her as the organisation tries to improve.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) was put into special measures by the regulator last year.

But in an interview broadcast live on this newspaper’s Facebook page yesterday, chief executive Julie Cave said she was a “fighter” and asked patients and families to support the trust in turning around its fortunes.

Mrs Cave, who took over on an interim basis just before the publication of the Care Quality Commission report last October, said she would be fighting for more money for mental health. She said: “I’m quite a big fighter, so I’ll fight to make sure we get our fair share of resources for our patients and I think my reputation with the clinical commissioning groups is that I am a tough negotiator.”

She also faced questions on her future, as adverts have been released for the chief executive position.

The salary was not included in the advert, but previous chief executive Michael Scott’s salary reached between £170,000 and £175,000 in last reported figures.

Mrs Cave said: “Now I may throw my hat into the ring for that and people will judge whether I am good enough or not, but we need the best possible candidate and whether that is me or someone else that is for a panel who is made up of external assessors as well to make that judgement.”

In the CQC inspection, a number of issues first brought up in 2014 - when the trust was last rated inadequate - were again highlighted. When asked why these were not fixed before Mrs Cave said: “I think because it was done to so staff felt that we were inflicting from the top rather than involving people so our philosophy for this kind of work is all about involving people. Whether that’s our staff and our service users stake holders as well so there’s a regime of having people involved in what we’re doing and that’s really important.”

• For the full video, visit the EDP Facebook page.

Not enough beds right now

During the interview, Mrs Cave also revealed she did not believe the trust had enough beds at the moment.

A beds review last year concluded NSFT could have enough beds with the introduction of community hubs, where people could access support, and Mrs Cave said that would help. She said: “Now if we built an extra ward we would have to staff it, everyone knows staffing in the NHS is not just in mental health but in all areas is tough, it’s really tight at the moment. So I would be nervous to open up more beds without the ability to staff them. The second point is, if we were to build a new ward that would take 18 months roughly so our thought process is how can we get extra beds through the system quickly. We do have an opportunity in the summer, we have some building works at Hellesdon Hospital site will be available once that work is complete. That’s a 15 bedded unit so our plan at the moment would be that if the CCG’s fund it.”

Other questions surrounded directors’ pay, where some executives got a £10,000 pay rise in April 2016.

Mrs Cave said she accepted people would not agree with her but that the pay packet related to the risks taken.

She said: “I think it is a very emotional subject but people are paid partly on the risk they take in terms of losing their job if things go wrong.”

An olive branch was also extended to service users who wanted to discuss their individual cases with Mrs Cave.

Asked whether she would contact those asking questions about their own care, Mrs Cave said she would and gave her email address.

She said: “The only way we can address it is if we know. I’m not interested in being defensive about anything which has gone on where we should have done better. But I do commit to trying to make it better.”

• Mrs Cave’s email address is julie.cave@nsft.nhs.uk

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