Monday, 26 March 2012

The future of Cambridgeshire's addictions services

Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) doesn’t have its troubles to seek. Not long ago the mental health trust it was criticised by the Care Quality Commission for failings regarding in-patient care, but later passed by the same body.

Now CQC’s successor, Monitor, has hit CPFT with a much more damaging indictment: "lack of strong leadership at board level".

This will be especially morale-draining for workers in the addictions service which, according to Cambridgeshire’s Drug and Alcohol Action Team, changes providers on 1 April. The service is currently run by Addaction until 31 March. And betting people in Cambridge say the tender will return to the NHS – specifically CPFT.

Before Addaction won against what had been seen as a strong NHS tender towards the end of the last decade, staff who had decided to jump bore disturbing tales of senior managers holding barely-veiled threats concerning pensions over workers’ heads should another body win the tender. Morale, driven round people’s ankles by multiplying cover-ups and management layers, went through the floor, until the threats were exposed as toothless.

(On cover-ups, I wonder if it’s coincidental that the Trust was initially passed by the CQC, fronted by Cynthia Bower, who not only looked away from the massacre at Stafford Hospital while head of its strategic health trust, but was probably chosen to head the CQC when selective vision was a positive quality in NHS aristocracy.)

If the CPFT does take over the running of Cambridgeshire’s addiction services from May 1, CPFT’s Board of Directors will have to exercise real control over sector managers to prevent a relapse into oligarchy. If it can do that, people on the ground will be able to exercise the vocation of helping people with broken lives – and those around them – find healing without another millstone round their necks.

Joe Daniels
300 words

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