Alex Stewart – Photo from Healthwatch

Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, has responded to the CQC report on mental health services locally.

“We are sad to hear the news of the CQC rating issued to the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust today. The staff there are working incredibly hard caring for and treating patients, and we understand this will be upsetting for those working at the sharp end of patient care.
Equally, the needs of patients are paramount, and we are aware from feedback we have received that there are concerns about some elements of the way people are being looked after.
It is encouraging that senior figures in the trust are acknowledging publicly there is work to do, and, moving forwards, Healthwatch Norfolk will be working constructively with the trust and patients to help with this.
People have said in the media and social media that they share their views about the trust and do not know what happens next. Healthwatch Norfolk is keen to help gather this feedback, pass this on to the trust, and work with them on a long-term basis to help improve care.
The new Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board will also bring all elements of health and social care together with the aim of improving things for patients. Ensuring organisations are supporting each other to enhance patient care can only be a good thing.
One example we have already seen is having mental health specialists attached to the Accident and Emergency department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston. They can supply immediate treatment and help to people in a severe mental health crisis, and we are being told this additional help is invaluable to both those patients who need it most as well as easing pressure on A & E staff.
Working together is the only way to improve things from those at the top of the trust through to specialist organisations, patients’ groups, and all of us in Norfolk.
Today’s announcement is not good news, but I am heartened that the trust is being open and transparent about its shortcomings. Healthwatch Norfolk is keen to do all it can to help it improve by gathering and analysing patient feedback on a long-term basis. We will act as a critical friend to both champion the concerns of patients while also doing all we can to support staff towards improving care even more for those who need it most”.