Suffolk’s mental health trust is ‘moving in the right direction’ says chief executive Michael Scott
The region’s mental health trust has reported it has seen financial growth at the same time as slashing its deficit for the first time in five years.
Records show since 2013/14 - when the trust’s clinical income was £199,896,000 - there had been a multi-million pound rise, putting them at a planned clinical income of £213,500,000 for 2017/18.
Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) chief executive Michael Scott said although all healthcare organisations were facing tough times, the picture at NSFT was perhaps looking brighter.
He said: “It’s a result of increased investment following increased confidence in NSFT alongside hard-working staff ensuring services are run as efficiently as possible, while continuing to improve the quality of those services. We have seen growth for the first time in five years - which has totalled £15m for 2017/18 - while at the same time we have made the highest capital investment that this trust has been for quite some time, all of which is great news for our service users and staff. To achieve growth, deliver efficiencies and to maintain a continued improvement in our services is no small feat, particularly when set against the unprecedented demands and financial strains the NHS has been facing.”
The trust has been plagued by controversy in recent years, and Mr Scott admitted when he took up his position three years ago that there was a lot of work to do. He said the organisation knew mental health services “needed more money to at least bring us somewhere near the same vel of physical healthcare funding”.
He added: “We’re not there yet, but it feels that locally we’re now pushing on a more open door, and we are all pushing together, as the national agenda has finally shifted and the importance of well-funded mental healthcare is being recognised as having the potential to save lives. No-one thinks we can rest on our laurels in ensuring mental health is alongside others at the front of the queue for NHS investment, and there is a lot we still need to do here to continue to improve our services and ways of working, but things are moving in the right direction.”
Mr Scott said the financial improvement had been the result of several key factors.
Commissioner’s investment and new services
The trust won several new NHS contracts last year, including Suffolk Wellbeing and the new mother and baby unit. They also received an extra £6.8m from commissioners in Norfolk and Waveney, and an extra £2.4m from commissioners in Suffolk.
The NSFT deficit has reduced from £8.9m in 2015/16 to £3.3m in 2016/17. They hope to be in a surplus position of £1m in 2018/19. Their agency spend is also reported to have dropped by £4.3m since last year.
Quality improvements and investments
Since April 1, 2015, the trust has recruited 1,159 people, of which 824 are clinical frontline staff.
By the end of 2017/18 the trust said they will have invested more than £13.5m into improving infrastructure and facilities.
And over the next two years the trust plans to spend £15m on capital investment. Planned projects include:
• A £4m redesign of west Norfolk acute adult services including a new inpatient unit
• A £3m redesign programme at the Norvic Clinic in Thorpe St Andrew, which will include remodelling the wards and facilities to meet the needs of service users
• A £1.7m upgrade and refurbishment of other secure services units
• £1.9m on improving IT resilience
• £500,000 on premises for community mental health teams based in Norwich
Mr Scott said although it was pleased with improvements to quality, finances and staff moral, it recognised there were still steps to take.
“One of the issues we will continue to focus on is the amount we spend on out of area and out of trust placement. Aside from the financial implications, these placements are not ideal for or service users and something we must continue to try and reduce wherever possible. But we do not see any money spent on the necessary placement of an individual into a bed, who needs a bed, as a waste of money.”
He added: “We know that there is still a lot of work to be done and will continue our unrelenting focus on improvement and finding different ways of working so we can strengthen our position still further next year.”