Leadership Academy highlights major themes for the Trust

One of the hallmarks of an Outstanding organisation is the degree to which frontline staff support and respect each other and so it was no surprise but a genuine pleasure for me to be told that, at the end of the nominations process for this year’s annual staff REACH Awards, we had smashed all previous records for the numbers of nominations received from our staff and service users – receiving over 330 nominations.

It’s been just over 3 months since I started as your Chief Executive and I can honestly say it feels, at one and the same time, as if it was a lifetime ago and only yesterday.  As you know, I’ve been spending a lot of that time getting around to meet teams and leaders across the Trust as well as with our partners and colleagues across the Together We’re Better STP.  Many thanks to everyone for making me feel so welcome and for your willingness to share your views and ideas with me – warts and all.  It really has been invaluable and much appreciated.

For this latest blog, I thought it might also be useful to give you all a ‘heads up’ on my comments at the latest meeting of our Leadership Academy, which featured some of the major themes I’ve picked up and, having reflected on what I’ve heard and learnt so far, some indication of where I see our overall direction of travel over the next few weeks and months. w

We’re REACH-ing Higher Than Ever!

At the end of this week, I am looking forward to the real pleasure of sitting down with colleagues to decide the overall winners and highly commended awards for REACH 2019. These will be chosen from a shortlist which has been whittled down from a record 336 nominations received. Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to submit a nomination.

You might like to know that this year, the shortlisting has been carried out by a wider cross-section of individuals across Combined than ever before – involving the entire Board including Executive and Non-Executive Directors, Associate Directors, Clinical Directors, staff side and the Service User and Carer Council – each with an equal say.

And, of course, we also have this year the PROUD to CARE Award which is voted online by every member of staff – each with an equal say.  We’ve already had nearly 200 online votes cast and the result is closer than ever, so every vote counts!  If you haven’t cast your vote already, you can do so by going to  https://combined.nhs.uk/reach-awards-2019/reach-awards-2019-vote-for-your-proud-to-care-winner.

Emerging Themes at our Leadership Academy

As I told our Senior Leadership Team at the latest meeting of the Leadership Academy, they and the teams they lead are the lifeblood of Combined – they make or break it – so I want to ensure that the Leadership Academy is something they can help mould and shape and really look forward to with enthusiasm and excitement. We had a really productive brainstorming session and there were tons of ideas which our OD team will now work up.

I had the great pleasure of being able to reflect on a latest set of performance statistics that I referred to as a “summer meadow of performance green”, which is fantastic. As I have been continuing my tour of teams across the Trust, a number of people had emphasised the importance of ensuring our performance reporting is as good as it can possibly be, including data quality and the way in which we report our performance. So we will be rethinking over the next weeks and months how we deal with the data quality agenda – everything from data input to training, through support for managers, to how we roll out our information reporting and – most critically – how we utilise it to continually improve the services we provide.

It’s great to have arrived at an agreed financial position for the Trust for the current financial year in discussion with our commissioners and regulators and after a herculean effort from our finance team, led by Lorraine Hooper and Jonathan O’Brien, our Director of Operations. The challenge will be to deliver on not insignificant commitments on our Cost Improvement Programme – in particular looking at how and where we can go beyond non-recurrent items year on year to a genuine transformational mode, supported by increased transformational capacity across Combined. One of the things that has also come through loud and clear from my visits to teams across the Trust is that on our frontline, people have the ideas we need, but ironically often don’t have the time to develop those ideas and then create the additional capacity for themselves.

I have also been reflecting on the complexity of developing Primary Care Networks and Integrate Care Partnerships. The scale of the challenge we face particularly over the next 12 months cannot be underestimated and, whilst I have no doubt that we are up to that challenge, the importance in particular of working on developing our patient pathways with partners is becoming ever clearer. Chris Bird, our Executive Director of Strategy and Partnerships, will be overseeing our strategic links with key system partners over coming months and coupled with clinical and operational colleagues will ensure that our care pathways perfectly reflect healthcare system changes such as planned growth in GP services.

Drivers For Progress Across the Together We’re Better STP

I have really enjoyed getting to know my fellow leaders across the Together We’re Better STP. Having now had the chance to take stock and reflect, I believe there are three main driver for progress.

The first are the individual Cost Improvement Plans within each Trust, which I’ve mentioned above.  

The second are the SPRINT programmes, essentially system-wide CIP initiatives. It’s particularly heartening to see that the mental health element of these initiatives is rated Green, which is a testament to the work of Jonathan and continuing partnership with our colleagues at Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust.

The third is our system wide architecture, where work continues to develop the best possible arrangements for developing our Programme Management expertise. In this respect, I think it is worth saying that we genuinely appear to have moved away from what might have been caricatured hitherto as an adversarial culture in relation to individual organisations. As a result there is an opportunity for us to reflect on what Combined Healthcare is particularly best placed to contribute to the success of our system as a whole.

One of our other strategic priorities at the STP level will be to ensure that our system response to the NHS Long Term Plan – due for November – is as high quality as possible, with the right profile and importance attached to mental health investment and services, including mental health and learning disabilities. I believe there is an opportunity for us to produce a really compelling vision for services and transformation, to drive ourselves and the services we provide forward.  This will include articulating why the case for investment is rooted in our local communities and the needs of our service users.

Stepping Up Programme Celebrates Alumni

A personal highlight of last week was having the oppportunity to open the Staffordshire and Stoke BAME Conference and Stepping Up Alumni event. Our staff came together at The Bridge Centre to celebrate the stepping up graduates, plus educate staff and students on personal journeys that current staff have taken. 

Each of our brilliant Stepping Up graduates explained their journey they took to where they are now. The conference was about celebrating diversity but also about addressing deep societal and systemic issues that mean that not all of our NHS colleagues enjoy the same experiences and opportunities as others. The key theme for the #Accelertorevent was personal journeys. 

Speakers included:

  • Patrick Nyarumbu: Director of Nursing – North Midlands, NHS England. Presentation on “Career reflections and insights”
  • Owen Chinembiri: Senior analytical manager, workforce race equality (WRES) Team, NHS England.
  • Mueid Kaleem, Stoke Pharmacist and known from the @ITV show “School for Stammerers”. Mueid talked about his journey and leadership qualities
  • Dr Helen Waite, from @LancasterUni . Talked about “understanding how and why change is experienced across the course of an individual’s career”
  • Gaynor Walker; Equality and Health Inequalities coordinator, NHS England and NHS Improvement. Talked about “How can we contribute? Changing the environment of the organisation.
  • Executive Medical Director, Dr Buki Adeyemo. Took us on her personal journey

The event ended with 3 focused group discussions:

  • “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Educational story telling exercise and group discussion. Referencing the book “Small great things” by
  • Stepping up Graduates and Senior Leaders – what has changed, what hasn’t changed and what further help is needed?

One More Reason to be “Proud”

I am well aware of the fabulous record Combined Healthcare has over many years in promoting diversity. So it was one more reason to be proud to see us well represented once again at the annual Stoke Pride event. Well done to all who took part and helped fly the Combined flag for tolerance and inclusion.