Second NHS Trust withdraws from mutualisation project

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust has become the second NHS trust to withdraw from the Pathfinder project, just days after the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital Trust made the same decision.

Following a unanimous vote at a branch meeting held on Monday 9th February, UNISON wrote to chief executive Michael Scott requesting that NSFT immediately withdraw from the Pathfinder project. In light of the recent Care Quality Commission commission rating of “inadequate” and recommendation that the trust be placed in special measures, the view of the branch committee was that there should be no distraction from the urgent and pressing issues facing the trust.

NSFT was originally one of 9 NHS Trusts selected nationally to take part in the Pathfinder scheme.  This subsequently reduced to 8 following the withdrawal last weekend of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, which like NSFT also serves care minister and Pathfinder architect Norman Lamb’s constituency.

In his response to UNISON’s letter Michael Scott CEO said that in light of staff concerns they have written to the Cabinet Office to inform them of the Board’s decision to leave the Pathfinder project. He acknowledged that with the need to urgently improve the quality of services and staff morale anything that may create a distraction from these priorities is not welcome at this time.

Carol Briggs, joint UNISON NSFT branch secretary said

“We welcome this swift action taken by the board of directors. It’s vitally important that staff on the frontline are listened to. Our members told us clearly that they had no interest in leaving the NHS, and our involvement in this project was at risk of further damaging morale.

We look forward to working constructively with the board to find ways of improving staff engagement and making sure that staff well being is at the heart of the future direction of NSFT. All our staff want is to have the resources that they need to provide high quality care for everyone who needs our service. We hope this move signals a fresh approach from the board in responding to the genuinely held concerns of staff”


Notes to editors:

Monitor announced its investigation into whether Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) had breached the terms of its licence over its £1.72m deficit on 3 December 2014

The Care Quality Commission rated NSFT as “inadequate” and recommended special measures on 3 February 2015

The mutualisation Pathfinder project is a joint Cabinet Office and Department of Health Initiative.

Norman Lamb MP & Frances Maude MP wrote to all NHS trusts on 28 July 2014 inviting applications for the Pathfinder Programme

UNISON has been raising concerns regarding staff morale, cuts and under resourced services for over two years.

It is estimated that NSFT is under funded by £30 million compared to acute hospital care

Further comment / interview:

Emma Corlett, NSFT UNISON Branch Spokesperson 07787 538881

Jeff Keighley, UNISON Regional Organiser 07508 080391