2019 is off to a flying start at Combined

Hi all

A very Happy New Year! Firstly a very big thank-you to everyone who worked over the festive period. I know you gave time up away from your families and friends and I am sincerely grateful to you as I am sure our service users and carers were as well.

Well to bring in 2019, we are off to a flying start as the CQC return to Combined from today!


The CQC is with us today, running a variety of focus groups listening to you about what it is like to work at Combined. They have also informed us that they are visiting our Crisis Core Services from tomorrow with the Access team tomorrow, Home Treatment on Wednesday and Liaison and Place of Safety on Thursday. As some of these services are community focused, the CQC has given us notice of visiting them.

Remember for in-patient areas, the CQC only gives us 30 minutes notice, so they could decide to visit these areas as well. Good luck for the coming days and weeks as the CQC arrives back at Combined. I know how much work and preparations have gone into making their inspection as positive and successful as possible and really appreciate all the efforts everyone is making.

We’ve got a great story to tell the CQC and a great track record of delivery and outstanding services to show them, so relax and tell the teams about all the excellent work you are doing. I know you’ll do yourselves and all your colleagues proud.


We have produced this handy guide of 10 steps from arrival of the CCQ. You may like to download a PDF version to print off and have readily available – this is also available for download on the Trust Intranet CAT here.

Remember to look our for the latest CQC Update newsletter or go to our dedicated CQC Inspection Home Page on our Intranet (CAT) for all the latest news and a range of support materials and content.


We ended 2018 on a real high as our fantastic CAMHS service received the best possible Christmas present – the news that Combined Healthcare has been selected as a Wave 1 pilot site, to receive almost £2 million a year from April 2019 to invest in children’s mental health services across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire.

This is excellent news for our CAMHS service and further real testament to their reputation for delivery, quality and innovation. Congratulations to everyone involved in the bid and a big thank you to those who have worked behind the scenes over the past few weeks to start planning the implementation of the new services!

The money is split into two parts. The first part will deliver over 30 new posts in CAMHS to form four educational mental health support teams of children’s mental health specialists and trainees to work directly with schools. There will be two teams in each of the locality Directorates of Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, serving between 10 and 20 schools per team.

The second element of the funding will be used to expand our existing three CAMHS community teams in order to provide additional staffing to each team, with the aim of reducing children’s mental health waiting times to under four weeks.

We have begun a major recruitment drive for trainee educational mental health practitioners as well as qualified mental health practitioners to form the new mental health support teams covering both Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire. The Trust will also begin working with the existing community teams to ensure the new staff are recruited as soon as possible to help expand our services and start to deliver reduced waiting times.

This major development will benefit parents, children and schools across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire. We are simply thrilled to have been chosen to deliver this multi-million transformation for children’s mental health and are raring to go.

We would urge everyone to spread the news to anyone you know who might interested in being part of this exciting new transformation, and ask them to get in touch and find out how to apply via jobs.combined.nhs.uk.


As if the CAMHS news wasn’t enough, we also had the fantastic news that £1.6m has been approved by the Government to develop a mental health crisis care centre and detoxification suite at Harplands Hospital, as well as four crisis cafes in the county.

The crisis care centre will include a crisis lounge and three places of calm for people experiencing mental health issues. It will also provide working space for social care staff, police and voluntary sector workers so they can support patients once they are ready for discharge.

The urgent care and detoxification centre will allow people experiencing substance misuse issues to recover in safety and for care and support to be planned once they are ready to go home. The crisis cafes will be located in East Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford and Staffordshire Moorlands and support people experiencing mental health problems.

Currently, people who are having a mental health crisis can feel they have nowhere to go. Very often, they will go to A&E because they know it will be open. However, A&Es are staffed and equipped to deal with physical and not mental health emergencies. A&E also specialises in dealing with immediate life-saving problems and is not there to plan on-going care or assessment.

These new specialist facilities will be able to offer more appropriate places for people experiencing crises involving either mental health or substance misuse problems. They will not just see them through the immediate problem but help provide joined-up care once they leave.


I really enjoyed welcoming everyone to our ‘new format’ Leadership Academy on Tuesday.  Under our new approach, we are looking to increase the range of masterclasses we can offer, drawing on outside speakers and organisations. The Academy is focused on supporting our senior leadership community but we will continue to support the leadership development needs of all our staff.

This first session featured our improvement partners AQuA, who will be co-creating with us a Leadership Development Programme, complementing our move to a locality structure and really bringing to life our leadership competency framework. Details of this will be sent out in due course.

We also kicked off the session with a hugely enjoyable ‘Human Bingo’ ice-breaker, where everyone learnt something new about their colleagues! It was enormous fun and congratulations to Jane Rook and the OD Team on supporting the event.


I was delighted last week to lead an event with our Admin staff using our LIA approach. Our Admin staff are a very important and highly valued part of our workforce. We heard from them that their experiences are not always as we would like them to be and we need to do more to support their development.

We have therefore decided to invest in appointing professional lead posts for Admin – one post that is clinically facing and one that is corporately facing. We are also going to support a forum and a development plan. It was great to have so many people engaging in the event and being to positive about the future potential – thanks to all!


We have produced a new Trust Board Poster, updated to reflect recent appointments and current Executive Directors in post. Copies are being distributed around the Trust and you can download your own copy here or contact the Communications Team if you want a professionally printed version for your work area.