A bumper week of progress all round

Hi all

It’s been another bumper week of progress and developments across a whole range of areas, from the Staff Survey to Flufighting…and the chance to showcase some of the fantastic research and innovation being produced by our teams.


It was, as usual, another packed agenda for the latest meeting of the Trust Board on Thursday. I was able to update the Board on a host of developments and news via my CEO Board Report, which will be familiar to regular readers of my blog, including:

  • our Locality Structure going live and our appointments to Service Manager and Quality Improvement  roles;
  • the launch of the NHS staff survey;
  • the launch of our Freedom To Speak Up Champions;
  • our great Mental Health Act Report on Florence House;
  • our second AHP Conference and launch of the AHP Strategy;
  • our action on diversity including our five key areas for action.

As normal, a copy of my full Board Report can be downloaded from our Trust website here.

We said thanks and farewell to a number of retirees, including:

  • John Morgan – Recovery Co-ordinator – who came to Combined on 28 February 1987 and has worked in a variety of areas within mental health, as well as substance misuse.
  • Lynn Glasby – Academic Personal Assistant – who has been working for The Trust since February 2002 and as organiser for the CPD Programme and MRcPsych Course for Trust doctors and trainee psychiatric doctors.
  • Diane Ashley – Recovery Co-ordinator – who commenced her nursing career as a Nursing Cadet on 30 June 1980 and has devoted 38 years of her life to the Trust, within the inpatient services for older adults as a staff nurse at St Edwards hospital, as a Ward Manager in Menzies House, in the Sutherland Centre Community Mental Health Team, as a key contributor to the development of the Edward Myers unit and within the Newcastle Community Substance Misuse and One Recovery Service.
  • Andy Oakes – Head of Partnerships – who started work in Stoke-on-Trent in 1977, the same year that Saturday Night Fever was released! Since then, he has worked in Newcastle, Kidsgrove, Biddulph and Hanley, and has been Head of Service, Head of the Stoke Community Directorate and, for the past three years, Head of Partnerships.
  • Julie Elden – Service Manager – who commenced employment as a Nursing Assistant in 1982 on a ward at St Edwards Hospital for people with Learning and Physical Disabilities, and has worked as Ward Manager at a Therapeutic Community Hospital for clients with a diagnosis of Personality Disorder, Senior Manager for night duty at the Psychiatric Unit, City General, as the Centre Manager of a Community Resource Centre and Senior Manager of various Adult Community Services including SPA, Criminal Justice Team and CHMTs, finally spending the last three years working as the Service Manager in the Adult Community Directorate.

Our Chairman, David Rogers, presented them with certificates and Maria Nelligan, Director of Nursing and Quality, presented those who were nurses with a Combined Nursing Badge in recognition of their contributions over many years to Combined Healthcare.

We also gave our REACH Team Award to the excellent Team on Ward 4 for their fantastic string of achievements over the past 12 months, including:

  • successful CQC and Assurance visits
  • work on Focus on Falls
  • ​Family and Friends Groups
  • End of Life Experience
  • strengthened multi-disciplinary team working
  • streamlined referral pathway; and
  • strengthened Parity of Esteem.



It was also great to catch up with our fab Flu Fighters team at the lunch break at our Trust Board meeting, and to hear that we’re ahead of where have been in previous years. Rob Sillito told me that we’re already close to the 1,000 mark in terms of staff receiving their jab and the team have ordered in their second batch of jabs, so we can push on to what we all hope will be a record successful year.

A number of our Non-Executive Board members did their bit for the cause by having their own jab, and I had my first ever ‘jab on film’! You can watch it below and, as I say in the film, can I urge everyone to get their own jab if you haven’t done so already.

To do so, simply give our Flu Fighter Team a call on x60122, or email mailto:flufightersnscht@combined.nhs.uk and one of the team will come to you!



The team managing this year’s NHS Staff Survey are providing regular updates on progress across our teams and I thought you might like to see how your area of the Trust is doing so far. Because of the timings of how the survey is designed, the figures for this year are collated against our directorate structure before the recent change to locality working, but will give you all an indication of how we are doing.

Well done to staff in our Finance, Performance and Digital and Estates Teams, who are heading the table with 74% and 65% completion rates. AMH Community and NOAP – let’s see you shooting up the rankings when I publish the weekly update in next week’s blog!

We’re now over 30% completed across the Trust as a whole, which is steady progress, but we really want to make this year a great one. It is so important that we hear from the staff how we are doing and what they think about the Trust, so we can be proud of where we’re doing well and, just as importantly, really understand where we could be doing better. So thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to give your views – it really does make a difference to how we make improvements for everyone.

Your feedback and responses are completely anonymous, so please be honest with us in your responses. It will only take 10 minutes or so to finish, so please dig out the email from survey@quality-health.co.uk with the subject line:

North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust 2018 NHS Staff Survey: Invitation

We have a £250 prize draw for teams with a high response rate, which can be spent on a team-focused priority, so rally up your team to take part, too!

We have also created a special Staff Survey section on our new Trust Intranet, which contains FAQs and a webform where, if you have any questions about the survey, you can send them direct to the Combined Organisational Development Team and get a reply. You can access this section at http://cat.combined.nhs.uk/nhs-staff-survey/nhs-staff-survey-faqs/



I had an absolutely fabulous time on Wednesday opening our Innovation Nation event.

Innovation Nation is our Trust’s very first research and innovation conference and was a lively and forward-thinking event, which was well attended by staff from across the Trust. I was delighted to introduce the event and I hope that there will be more opportunities in the future to host future events, to nurture and celebrate our culture of research and innovation.

Held at North Staffordshire Conference Centre, the event was a great opportunity to share ideas and promote research findings with colleagues. Oral and poster presentations were delivered throughout the morning, with attendees having the chance to network over lunch and discuss all things research and innovation based.

Our guest speaker for the event was Dr Scott Border, Principal Teaching Fellow in Anatomy within Medicine at the University of Southampton. Scott discussed the pitfalls and promises of innovation – giving an honest account of the challenges faced during the innovation journey within Trusts.

The conference concluded with Dr Chris Link, R&D Director, thanking all those who took part and presented – either orally or via poster. The award for best presentation went to Dr Jenni Watson and Dave Jefferson from our ADHD CAHMS Team, for their insightful presentation about their ADHD pathway project titled: “How a questionnaire influenced a pathway”.

We also launched a fabulous collection of initiatives celebrating nursing excellence and bringing our nursing strategy to life. You can download a copy of this collection by clicking here.

If you have any questions about the day, or would like to learn more about research and innovation at Combined, please feel free to contact Kerri Mason (kerri.mason@combined.nhs.uk) or Dr Rebecca Chubb (Rebecca.Chubb2@combined.nhs.uk)




Our latest Board Development session focused on openness and looking to the future.

Our session on Openness was led by our Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, Zoe Grant. Zoe updated the Board on plans for our Freedom to Speak Up Champions and we spent a fascinating session brainstorming how we can move to become truly outstanding in our approach and delivery of being open, allowing staff to raise concerns bringing together the various strands of our listening and responding to concerns and ideas.

Our second strand was a hugely enjoyable session led by our Director of Strategy and Development, Andrew Hughes, looking into the future and how we can ensure that our existing Strategic Priorities remain absolutely aligned with our future needs and strategy. The good news was that we considered them to remain fundamentally sound and fit for purpose, but we had a range of ideas and contributions for how we could refine them slightly to make them absolutely aligned with our future priorities and direction of travel. I will, of course, keep you all updated as our ideas crystallise into their final form.



This week saw the end of an entire week of induction activities for the new team for our brand-new PICU ward at Harplands. The team of 25 staff enjoyed getting to know each other, with most activities based at their new workplace. The week was packed full of fun and informative ways to learn about the vital role they’ll be playing, with team building activities, a mindfulness practical and even a gym session!

The induction also included an ice breaker where they had to figure out the lyrics to a very famous song, picking uplifting songs to form the soundtrack to the ward and decorating canvasses to display motivational messages on the PICU walls.

Thank you to all the organisers and to the team for making it such a great week – welcome to our new starters at PICU!



Everyone will know Lorien Barber, who has been a Non-Executive Director at Combined since 1 December 2016. Lorien has been a fantastic and highly valued member of the Board and it is with real sadness, but also with huge gratitude, that we say goodbye to her as a natural break of  her two-year tenure period comes to a close and with her work commitments making it not possible for to continue to devote the amount of time she would like to the Trust.

Lorien brought to the Board a huge amount of insight, experience and talent, having worked for nearly 20 years in the voluntary sector. For seven years, she served as Director of North Staffs Users Group, the mental health campaign group and voice of service users locally. During that time, she was also elected as Co-Chair of the local Mental Health Partnership Board. More recently, she worked as Strategic Liaison Manager, connecting local health, social care and the voluntary sector at VAST, a charity providing services and support to voluntary and community groups, charities and social enterprises in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. She was also appointed as Partnership Manager at Macmillan to improve cancer support across Staffordshire and the Black Country.

Amongst the many contributions that Lorien has made to Combined, her period serving as the Chair of the People and Culture Development Committee has made a real impact on the day-to-day working lives of staff across the Trust and I know it is an area that is particularly important to her.

On a personal note, and as our Chair has also noted in his communication to staff, we will truly miss Lorien’s wise advice, support as a colleague and insight. She really has been an embodiment of our Trust values of being Proud to CARE.

We are in the process of appointing a new Non-Executive Director and I will keep everyone informed on the outcome as we complete that process.