Initial CQC feedback is in – and it makes me so proud

Last week made me so proud to be Chief Executive at Combined Healthcare. The initial feedback we received from the CQC at the end of their round of inspections was overwhelmingly positive and is a real tribute to the dedication, hard work and quality of the people we employ and the services we provide.

At the start of the inspections, I asked everyone to do their best to show the CQC the reality of the great care we deliver, and you clearly did exactly that! Well done to all!

I myself had the responsibility of delivering an overall presentation to the CQC on our journey towards outstanding, and it was a sheer pleasure to be able to tell such a fantastic story of achievement, progress and quality.


The CQC Inspection team were onsite at Lawton House to undertake their well-led inspection of the Trust. All the executives and some of the Non-executives and Chairman were interviewed along with Laurie and Zoe as our Freedom to speak up guardian. This follows inspection visits to three of our core services; adult community teams, crisis services (access, home treatment, place of safety and mental health liaison) and older person’s wards.

At the end of the inspection, the CQC shared highlights with us, which included that all staff they met were dedicated to delivering high-quality, person-centred care, which is fantastic. They recognised that we had an experienced leadership team with the skills to deliver high-quality services and also noted the Trust’s role in the wider system transformation work. They commented that the breadth and depth of progress across the Trust in a relatively short period was a real credit to everyone.

CQC referenced our clear vision, values and open culture where staff felt able to speak up and commented that staff were both loyal to the organisation and to each other, which demonstrates why Combined is such a great place to work.

At the time of our last well-led inspection, we were in the process of implementing and embedding our new EPR system and the CQC fed back that during this inspection they had noticed a real increase in the quality of data within Lorenzo and that staff were much more confident in navigating around the system. They also noted we had made great progress in terms of our approach to diversity and inclusion, including the work of our Inclusion Council.

We anticipate receiving our report early March so I will keep you posted on any communication we receive from CQC, but once again I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for continuing to deliver services you should be very proud of.


It was very sad to say goodbye to Suzanne last week. She has been such a superb Director of Finance and an excellent Executive colleague. We had a lovely meal out to say thank you and goodbye to her. We wish her well in her new role and know that she will be pleased to not have to tackle the M6 on a daily basis!

Lorraine Hooper starts with us in a couple of weeks as our new Director. Mike Newton will be covering and supporting the portfolio in the meantime – thanks to Mike.


The latest Trust Board meeting was proud to recognise Karen Clowes – Service Manager, CAMHS, on the occasion of her retirement.

Most of Karen’s career has been working within CAMHS services as she very early on realised that her passion was to work with children, in particular supporting youngsters with eating disorders. Karen has been instrumental in driving forward best practise and eating disorder programmes and, more recently, been key in the development of the eating disorder service. She has always been passionate and dedicated to her role and has always been keen to share her knowledge and experience to more junior members of staff as well as being an excellent role model to ensure patients receive the highest standard of care. As well as patients, Karen has always looked after staff wellbeing and has always been very highly regarded by her team and colleagues. Karen has been an extremely valued and well-respected member of CAMHS services and will be missed by all her colleagues and many friends she has formed over the years.

Our REACH Recognition Team Award went to the AMHP/BIA Team. The team gave a fabulous presentation to the Board on the work they do and the partnerships they have developed. One of the things that the team are proudest about is the culture they have developed amongst team members of being supportive, non-hierarchical and dedicated. It’s no surprise that they have some of the highest staff retention rates in the Trust, which is a testament to how much their team members feel valued and the pleasure and pride they derive from the work they do.

The Board also had a presentation from Marcus Warnes, Accountable Officer at our local CCGs – as well as the opportunity for Board Members to ask questions – on the current local consultation on the future of local health services in Northern Staffordshire, in particular around a proposed model and options for the delivery of integrated care hubs, as well as the location of community hospitals and NHS care home beds.

Whilst the specific outcomes of this programme are still the subject of full local consultation, the overall direction of travel – which is to move towards locality working and integrated hubs – is something we have been pioneering ourselves in Combined Healthcare and it was great to have the opportunity to ask Marcus questions and provide some feedback and views.

All of our staff and service users can find out more and have their own say as part of the consultation, by going to a dedicated website created to support the process – at


I promised to let you know as soon as possible the outcome of our interviews for a new Chief Executive Officer. We were delighted to announce the appointment of Peter Axon, who will be joining us from his role as Chief Finance Officer/ Deputy Chief Executive at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Peter has a wealth of senior experience in finance, strategy, contracting, information and performance.

Most importantly, he has really strong patient- and staff-centred values and I am delighted to be handing on the reins to him. We will be working closely together to handover in the coming weeks, with a planned start date for Peter of 1 April.


A very big and warm welcome to Chris Bird who started part-time with us last week as our new Director of Partnerships and strategy. Chris is continuing to work for the CCGs and supporting the contracting period until mid March. He will be performing an essential role in continuing our partnership working with the Northern Alliance, chairing the Executive Group as well as leading on the development of our annual plan which is due back with NHSI at the beginning of February.



We were very pleased to be able to complete the current round of appointments to our new locality structures by selecting our AHP Leads and Psychology Leads.

Sarah Mountford has been appointed as the Head of AHPs, and the leads for each of the localities are:

  • Stoke Community – Michaela Czapski
  • North Staffs Community – Kerrie Parton
  • Specialist Services – Liz Clarke
  • Acute and Urgent Care – Carolyn Wilkes

Dr Darren Perry is our Head of Psychology and the leads for each of the localities are:

  • Stoke Community – Nina Shergill
  • North Staffs Community – Stephanie Hutton
  • Specialist – Gill Cooke
  • Urgent Care – Sarah Lunt

The full set of our professional and locality leads are set out below. Congratulations to everyone appointed.