During Healthwatch Norfolk Live, health and social care leaders from across Norfolk answered your questions. We could not get through all the questions in the time so there are written answers below to those that the panel did not get around too. 
Responses from Stuart Richardson, Chief Executive, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust

What measures are being put in place to improve access to mental health services?

Improved access to our services and staffing are two of our priorities. We are reviewing the demand and how we make sure that there are the resources to look after those people who need our specialist services. We are also focused on making sure that we recruit and retain staff. We now have nearly 5000 staff. We have attracted more than 700 people to the Trust since January 2021 and have a net increase of staff of 170 since then. We know we are losing too many staff, but we are working on this with a new plans, such as an induction programme, and are seeing higher rates of completed appraisals, training and supervision than in November 2021.

We also want to share with you that we are making sure that people who come to us for support are given the right services for their clinical need. For those on the waiting lists everybody has a safety plan, and knows who to contact when they do not feel safe. Their families are also kept informed of care plans. We have improved information we give to people as to where they can get online help.

However we know we have more to do. We are looking at new solutions to improve waiting list management and making sure people are able to move through our services easily. We expect improved access to our services over the coming year.

When will mental health be given a higher priority so people can be seen within a more reasonable time scale? Will more counsellors and therapists be recruited at any point?

Mental health is everyone’s business. Working together for better mental health is a shared priority between Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and all our partners in health and social care. We are transforming the way mental health and wellbeing support is provided, prioritising prevention, early intervention, support in the community in a crisis and rapid access to specialist services. We cannot do that alone – and NSFT, as the specialist mental health provider – plays a large part, not the only part. We need to work together with partners to understand and address the issues, to ensure patients get the right care when and where they need it. Please see the answer above for how we are approaching recruitment, as we are working hard to attract more people into the Trust.