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NHS mental health Trust in special measures.

A mental health trust has been declared ‘not a safe service’ by independent regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and become the first of its kind in England to be put in special measures.

NHS regulator Monitor will now help support management at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to deliver an action plan.

External experts will work with the existing senior management team at the trust to resolve its problems.

Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust has a number of mental health wards across both counties.

Trust chief executive Michael Scott said special measures would be the first step on the road to recovery.

He added: "Although disappointing, it is not a surprise to us, coming after the CQC recommendations in January. We recognise the need to improve the care we provide and we need to carefully manage our finances to a healthier position. We welcome the additional support we'll get through this process."

An inspection by the CQC identified several serious issues, including concerns about the safety of services, staffing levels and leadership at the trust.

Monitor has also imposed a new condition on Norfolk and Suffolk's licence, enabling the regulator to take further action, such as replacing members of the trust's leadership team, if the required improvements for patients are not made swiftly.

A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health in Norfolk and Suffolk said the decision was "inevitable following the damning CQC inspection and the financial black hole. We share with Monitor a common aim: the quickest possible turnaround of NSFT for the benefit of patients."

The CQC report said there were also concerns about a lack of beds and that "urgent action" was needed.

However it added that: "Staff were kind, caring and responsive to people and were skilled in the delivery of care."