Advising with empathy and experience

Mental health trust ongoing problems..

A whistle-blower at a failing mental health trust - the first in England ever to be placed in special measures - says staff are still fire-fighting to keep patients safe.

A senior clinician known simply as Claire has spoke to the BBC in an exclusive interview.

She said despite regulators stepping in since February, little has improved at the Norfolk & Suffolk Foundation Trust, based at Hellesdon Hospital on the outskirts of Norwich – even though it says that it has made changes and is entering a period of stability.

Claire, who has worked at the trust for a number of years and wishes to remain anonymous, says even the most vulnerable patients, at risk of self-harm and suicide, are not receiving the right help because of staffing cuts and workload pressures.

She claims this has left patients at risk and families desperate for help - some grieving for loved ones who have taken their own lives.

She told the BBC: "None of us are getting any kind of hint that people are listening to us, that something is going to change. We used to say, 'Well, what has to happen? Do people have to start dying?' But people started dying and still we're on the same track.

"For some staff it feels like you're just about managing to keep people alive, but you're not actually offering any kind of treatment.  For a lot of us it feels as if we're just fire-fighting. Or in other areas it feels like you're having to ration the treatments so some people can have it, but there isn't enough treatment to go round."

In February, the regulatory body the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust and deemed it to be unsafe.

It identified a number of serious issues, including concerns about the safety of services, staffing levels and leadership at the trust.