A week full of staff participation

This was a week when a number of important initiatives in the Trust began – with opportunities for all our staff to get involved. And it was a week when I was able to spend time with fellow Chief Executives across the country, with a great story to tell about our Trust and our continuing journey Towards Outstanding.


This year’s Flu Fighter campaign has got off to a great start with our 24-hour Jabathon and an appearance at our AHP Conference.

The Jabathon took place from 6am on Friday 5 October until 6am on Saturday 6 October. Over 380 staff have received their jab since the launch, which is a great start.

Rob Sillito is once again leading our efforts and he was on hand to congratulate our first Golden Ticket winners who found a Golden Ticket in their vaccination pack. Each month, there will be a number of hidden golden tickets, where you can win a £10 Love To Shop voucher! You’ll know if you’ve won instantly and can claim your prize straight away!

Our first cohort getting their jab included our Chair, David Rogers, Executive Director of Nursing and Quality, Maria Nelligan, our Deputy Director of Nursing, AHP and Quality, Julie-Anne Murray and our newly appointed Head of Nursing and Professional Practice, Alastair Forrester, who took the lead at the AHP Conference.

We really need everyone to get their jab. It protects you, your work colleagues, your service users and your families.

To get your own jab, simply give our Flu Fighter Team a call on 60122, or email flufightersnscht@combined.nhs.uk and one of the team will come to you!


It was a real pleasure to read a great Mental Health Act Report following an unannounced MHA inspection. The report was in keeping with the teams CQC rating of outstanding and acknowledges some of their good practice. I was particularly pleased that the report acknowledged the service’s least restrictive approaches to the care of their patients. It went onto to highlight the following areas of good practice;

  • Florence House producing its own newsletter for patients; the letter is succinct with information about local and Trust events and is used to tell staff stories, healthy food recipes and other interesting topics
  • a copy of the MH code of conduct available in the lounge area for all patients (their patients had designed some of the booklet)
  • employed an STR worker who is happy to share his own experience of receiving mental health care, creating a sense of hope amongst the patients
  • patients describing a very positive response form Advocacy and IMCA service
  • staff explaining that patients were provided with a swipe card to exit the unit when they wished to smoke; this included informal and detained patients (who had the required leave). There had been no concerns.
  • work towards a least restrictive environment with a view to converting the unit into an open rehabilitation unit
  • Florence House staff actively promoted independence and autonomy – patients’ care & risk plans were clearly developed with them and person centred
  • regular patient community meetings and a ‘you said, we did’ board that was up to date and evidenced a response to patient requests for a BBQ, Karaoke machine etc.

Invariably, as a result of an inspection, there are areas for improvement which I am pleased to say the team have promptly responded to, including a telephone ringing during the night and a few of the community meetings not always having a response / update from the ward manager. The report also highlighted the need for the medical team to ensure that they are recording, in Lorenzo, any discussions that they have with patients relating to consent.

I’d like to extend my thanks and congratulations to Carolyn, Jeanette and the entire Florence House team. Well done!


As I trailed in last week’s blog, this week, the Trust held our second AHP Conference, chaired by our Director of Nursing and Quality, Maria Nelligan. The event was a chance for team leaders, senior leadership team members, executives, AHP colleagues, partners and service users to find out about our innovative practices, as well as formally launching the AHP strategy.

There was a packed programme, including a ‘Who wants to be a millionaire” AHP quiz, presentations and videos from a whole range of teams and a keynote presentation from Glenn Westrop, AHP Clinical Fellow at NHS Improvement.

Look out for the new AHP Strategy, unveiled at the Conference and being formally launched very soon. And congratulations to all involved for a fabulous and informative event.


October is Freedom to Speak Up month and I am delighted that we are launching our Freedom to Speak Up Champions initiative.

Working with the Trust’s Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, Zoe Grant, the Champions will help to promote a positive culture in which staff feel comfortable and supported to speak up about things that may concern them.

By having Freedom To Speak Up Champions across the Trust’s localities and diverse staff and professional groups, the aim is to give staff a wide choice of who they may be most comfortable in speaking up to.

The Champions will be supported by Zoe, and their role will be supporting staff to speak up and helping her identify themes and trends emerging from the front line.

The opportunity to become a Champion is available to all Combined staff.  Anyone interested in becoming a Champion can, in the first instance, e-mail Zoe Grant.

The launch was one part of a much wider Leadership Academy session, looking at how we continue to promote openness, listen to and engage our staff – including a fascinating chat about the Leadership Academy itself and Team Brief.

We also took the opportunity to watch and reflect again on the insights and lessons we can learn from our Staff Nurse Story film, featuring the words of a BAME member of staff, well as highlighting the action plan we are putting in place.

Many thanks to our Associate Director of OD, Jane Rook, for leading the session and for all who contributed.


I wanted to bring your attention to a fabulous initiative, which was showcased at our recent Symphony of Hidden Voices Conference. Dawn Shepherd, one of our Learning Disabilities teams, has supported this to her credit. Russ appeared with Dawn at the Conference to tell his story and it was really well received.

Russ’s Rules is the campaign of Russ Powell, a local football coach with terminal cancer. His rules came about following observing bad behaviour from team players and parents watching at the side in his football matches. Russ’s rules are:

  • We will always try out best
  • We support our team mates – we all do well when we work together
  • We will avoid arguing and respect the decisions of officials
  • We will play fair. Real winners follow the rules
  • If we lose we won’t make excuses
  • We will learn from our mistakes and get back in the game
  • We will end with a handshake
  • We will be the kind of people who make the world a friendlier place
  • We will have fun!

Any sports clubs who would like to sign up to the initiative can email makeadifference.stoke@bbc.co.uk, quoting their club and address, where they will receive a set of the rules for their club house.

Although the initiative started out in youth football, the values it promotes are something to which I think many other types of organisation – including our own – can aspire and relate to. It chimes really well with our Trust values and our Respect campaign, trying to foster a culture of respect, working against racist and other personal abuse.


I thought you might like to see this animated film just released by the Together We’re Better STP. It’s called “Introducing Bill and his Integrated Care Team”

Bill’s story shows how integrated care teams will make it easier for staff from different organisations to work better together and with the voluntary and community sector. These teams will be focused on the needs of their community and help people remain independent and at home for as long as possible. As you all know, the concept of Integrated Care Teams is something we have been promoting for a long time at Combined, and our use of animated films for explaining NHS finances and Valuemakers is well known. It’s great to see this output from the STP.


I was pleased to go to visit the Access and Home Treatment teams last week. I met incredibly committed staff who are doing a great job supporting service users day in, day out.

​One of the issues we discussed was the opportunity to use digital technology to reduce the inputting time it takes in Lorenzo. I am pleased that we have decided to invest in piloting voice recognition, where clinicians can speak into a microphone which then uploads information directly into Lorenzo. We will keep a close eye on this, as I am sure it will be popular.


I finished off the week attending a two-day event in Leeds, organised by the NHS Leadership Academy for Chief Executives. It was a great event with loads of sharing of good practice and national success. It was really good to be with peers and share the challenges we have as well as the fabulous innovation that is going on across the country.