Crisis-hit mental health trust named worst in the country blew more than ... trends now
A mental health trust in crisis after being named the worst in the country spent more than £800,000 on spin doctors in a year.
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust had been rated 'inadequate' four times in six years by the Care Quality Commission when it sought advice from a public relations firm.
The public health watchdog subsequently said it had made 'significant improvements' – prompting a local MP to question yesterday what had happened behind the scenes.
Labour's Clive Lewis, who represents South Norwich, told the BBC he was 'aghast' at the cost.
He added: 'I think there are genuine questions about how this money has been spent.
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (pictured) had been rated 'inadequate' four times in six years by the Care Quality Commission when it sought advice from a public relations firm
Labour's Clive Lewis (pictured), who represents South Norwich, told the BBC he was 'aghast' at the cost
'If [they've] been using public money to tell the CQC that there isn't a problem, then I'd like to know about it.'
NSFT appointed PR consultants Hood & Woolf in September last year, when it was facing a new CQC inspection.
It was paid at least £814,752, during a period when an independent review by Grant Thornton auditors found the trust had lost track of patient deaths.
A report into the deaths was criticised by the mother of a man who died in the trust's care for allegedly being 'watered down to spare bosses'.
A leaked draft version showed the trust's governance was described as 'weak and inadequate'.
But 'governance' was replaced by 'controls' and another section on a 'culture of fear' among staff was cut out altogether.
NSFT and the auditors said changes were made as a result of fact-checking.
There was further upheaval in September when chief executive Stuart Richardson announced he was leaving.
A report into the deaths was criticised by the mother of a man who died in the trust's care for allegedly being 'watered down to spare bosses'
Hood & Woolf - which handles crisis management and offers major change programme support according to its website – insisted it had 'absolutely no involvement' in the review process.