Call for Norfolk mental health trust probe rejected

6:00 PM May 10, 2022

Council leaders have been accused of disrespecting bereaved families by blocking a call for a public inquiry into Norfolk’s failing mental health trust.

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust was last month rated inadequate by inspectors.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) put the service into special measures for the fourth time in a decade, although trust bosses have pledged to make improvements.

But, at an emotion-charged meeting of Norfolk County Council on Tuesday there were calls for the council to back an independent public inquiry.

The opposition Labor group tabled a motion about the trust before the critical report was published, which the party amended on the day to call for the council to support an inquiry into what keeps going wrong.

Emma Corlett, deputy leader of the Labor group at Norfolk County Council
– Credit: Archant

It was tabled by Emma Corlett, leader of the Labor group and a former mental health nurse, who broke down in tears as she spoke about families whose loved ones had killed themselves.

She said there had been “clear and repeated warnings” about the problems in mental health services for at least a decade, yet the trust continued to fail.

Bill Borrett

Bill Borrett, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for adult social care
– Credit: Matthew Usher

But Bill Borrett, the controlling Conservative group’s cabinet member for adult social care, amended the motion.

He removed the inquiry call and reworded it to instead focus on mental health improvement being a top priority for the soon-to-be created Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System.

Mr Borrett will chair the new Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Partnership, bringing together hospitals, community and mental health trusts, GPs, councils and other care providers.

He said that was the best process through which the council could play a role in making changes, with a “collegiate” approach to “radical improvement”.

He agreed the inspector’s report into the trust was “disastrous” but said another way forward over the motion might have been found had Ms Corlett shared her amendments sooner.

Ms Corlett, who said the late tabling of her changes was because she had to digest the lengthy CQC report, said: “This is a wrecking amendment, which I consider is disrespectful to every bereaved family in Norfolk.”

The motion, as amended by the Conservatives, was passed by 37 votes for, with 21 against and one abstention.

If you need help and support, call NHS 111 and select option 2 or the Samaritans on 113 123.

Both services are available 24 hours, 7 days a week. You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple & Android.

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