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Mental health trust chairman warns of ‘considerable challenges’ ahead

NSFT chairman Gary Page. Photo: NSFT

NSFT chairman Gary Page. Photo: NSFT

NSFT

The chairman of the region’s mental health trust warned of “considerable challenges” ahead at the service’s annual general meeting.

Gary Page, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) chairman opened the meeting in Norwich this afternoon (Tuesday), thanking former chief executive Michael Scott who retired with immediate effect on September 29.

Deputy chief executive and director of finance Julie Cave - who is taking over from Mr Scott in the interim - said over the last year the trust had looked at issues raised previously by inspectors, before turning to the finances.

Mrs Cave said: “Every year I’ve said we had our most difficult year last year, and I’m not going to change that.”

Out of area placements, NSFT’s land and buildings, and agency spend were all challenges on the coffers.

But Mrs Cave said a £3.3m deficit was achieved in 2016/17, with £1.1m forecast for 2017/18.

“We will continue to fight for parity of esteem,” she added.

Before opening the floor to questions, Mr Page addressed the issue of out of area and trust placements.

He referenced a report by this newspaper last week on safety concerns at the private Mundesley Hospital, but said the safety of patients was paramount to the board.

He said patients were sent to Mundesley to ensure they could remain in Norfolk and not be sent far away for treatment.

And that the trust regularly met with staff at Mundesley to ensure things were running smoothly.

The first question from a member of the public was on the trust’s estates, and whether more land would be sold off.

Mrs Cave confirmed there were plans to sell some of the Hellesdon Hospital site in Norwich.

Another question came on the rate of unexpected deaths, which have risen. But Dr Jane Sayer, director of nursing, governance and performance, said many of these were due to physical health.

Dr Sayer said Mazars - who conducted an independent review into deaths at the troubled Southern Health - were looking into deaths at NSFT to see if themes could be identified.

Before closing the meeting, Mr Page praised NSFT for their hard work “often in very difficult conditions”.

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