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Mental health trust chief hits back at claims governors are ‘unhappy’ with restrictions

PUBLISHED: 10:56 14 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:01 14 July 2017

NSFT chairman Gary Page. Photo: NSFT

NSFT chairman Gary Page. Photo: NSFT

NSFT

The chairman of the region’s mental health trust has hit back at claims that some of the organisation’s governors were unhappy about being unable to see confidential board papers.

This newspaper reported on Wednesday how governors at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) were no longer able to see the confidential documents after a leak to the BBC’s Panorama programme earlier this year.

One governor, speaking anonymously, said: “Many governors who are supportive of the NSFT board are unhappy with this decision.”

But now NSFT’s chairman of the board of directors, Gary Page, has spoken out and 18 out of the 29 trust governors have written to this newspaper in a collective letter to respond.

Mr Page said: “I am extremely disappointed at the anonymous comments allegedly made by a governor of the trust in the media.

“Over the past two days, governors have been voluntarily telling me that this is not a picture of NSFT that they recognise; many have expressed dismay at this person’s actions, and others anger at the comments being made. All of those who have spoken to me have expressed their concern that this is being portrayed as the views of the whole council without their voice being heard.”

He added his biggest concern was the claim the governor felt they could not approach the trust because of a “fear of retribution”.

Mr Page said: “I hear the views of our governors every day, sometimes their own personal views, but more often they are representing our staff, service users and carers, which is the role they are here to fulfil.

“I also know the NSFT board receives those views from the floor at our meetings held in public, as well as feedback from committee meetings which Governors observe.

“It was with regret that we took the decision to no longer share confidential board papers with Governors, as we had done for very many years and I know that many governors remain disappointed that the apparent action of one governor has meant that no governors receive the papers. But we believe it was the right thing to do.

“There is no requirement for NSFT to share these papers with governors and so the trust was aiming to be as transparent as possible in sharing those confidential papers, and we were saddened when a member of our council chose to act against a collective confidentiality agreement.

“As chair of NSFT and chair of the governors, I have always gone out of my way to champion the role and involvement of governors in challenging the trust and I wholeheartedly respect the integrity of those individuals.”

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