Listening to our staff across a range of disciplines

Hi all

This week saw us listening to our staff across a whole range of disciplines and activities across the Trust as our journey towards outstanding continued apace.


Last week, I thanked our teams for their really hard work mobilising to provide updated data and analysis to help us prepare our CQC return. This week saw us continue our preparations as the Senior Leadership Team discussed our draft self-assessment of our CQC 11 core service domains.

It was a fascinating discussion and really gave us a chance collectively to take stock and appreciate the significant improvements we continue to make across our Trust in the services we deliver and how we deliver them. In particular, what was great to see were the number of areas where we have continued to improve from being ‘Good’ to where we think we genuinely are ‘Outstanding’. This is exactly what our journey towards outstanding is all about – not because we want to be in the game of simply chasing CQC ratings for the sake of it, but because of the improvements it means we are making in the services we deliver for our service users and their families.

​Many thanks to everyone for their continued input into this work. It really is appreciated. I will, of course, keep you all updated as our progress continues.


This week has blessed with not one – but two – fantastic events where the Executive Team had the time and opportunity to listen to our staff across a range of disciplines and activities. It’s something to which I attach real importance, as it enables us to hear and learn first hand from the staff on the ground.

On Tuesday, we held our first ever conference specifically to celebrate and support the work of our non-registered care workers. This staff group is amongst the biggest in the Trust, with the most proportion of time in direct patient-facing roles.

Our Director of Nursing and Quality, Maria Nelligan, opened the event, which also featured keynote presentations from a great friend of the Trust, Tommy Whitelaw – Leading Change Adding Value Champion at NHS England and from Shaun Maher, Principal Educator Quality Improvement Team at NHS Scotland.

The morning session of the event gave opportunities from our care workers to share insights into the fantastic work they do at Combined, including presentations from:

  • Ben Walmsley and Matt Wright – HCSWs, Darwin
  • Lisa Boon – STR Worker, Access and Home Treatment
  • Jackie Weightman – Assistant Practitioner, Ward 7
  • Workers from our Learning Disabilities Team
  • Amanda Dibble – HCSW, Intoxication Observation Unit
  • David Hilton – Activity Worker, Ward 7

The afternoon session was devoted to a Listening Into Action event, facilitated by our OD Team, listening to feedback and ideas from our staff on how they feel about their work, the opportunities it offers as well as they challenges they face, what more the Trust can be doing to support them and how we can maximise the routes for personal and career development. Well done to everyone involved in putting on a great event.

Thursday saw us engaged in our Towards Outstanding Medical Leadership event – chaired by our Medical Director, Dr Buki Adeyemo, supported by Suzanne Robinson, our Director of Finance and Jonathan O’Brien, our Director of Operations.

We are blessed to have some truly fantastic medics in our Trust and it was a real pleasure to be able to spend some really quality time with them all, discussing their ideas, insights and opinions.

It was great to hear Suzanne talk with our clinicians, really encouraging them to step up and lead value making initiatives. There was also great support for Jonathan as he welcomed our medical to really shape our future service development opportunities.

Well done to everyone!


One of the other really important ways we can hear the views and opin

ions of our staff is through the national staff survey. I can assure everyone that the effort you make to take part in the survey is really valued and your views are actively listened to and acted upon.

Our comms and OD teams will be starting our communications campaign around this year’s staff survey next week (beginning 24 Sept), so can I ask everyone to look out for the information on how to get involved.

This year some people will be able to fill out the survey online, others will be getting paper copies delivered to their work base. If you aren’t clear at all about how you can personally get involved, you can contact the OD team at

This year, once again, we will be running an incentive scheme for teams that reach their completion targets to be entered into a prize draw for £250 to be spent on the team. Further details will come out next week.


One evening last week, I travelled to Stoke to meet with Chairs and CEOs across our STP and discuss the key issues that are facing us at the moment. The County Council talked about the significant financial challenges they are facing in setting their future finance plan. We also discussed the national NHS England / NHS Improvement support that the system is receiving at the moment. As the lead for mental health across the STP, I am taking a great interest in the headline messages that are emerging which may provide further insight into planning services into the future.

I was also asked to get involved last week in the support of a young person who had very complex needs. Myself, Maria and Buki and some of our excellent practitioners met with the senior and professional team at Stoke City Council. What was really evident was the enormous amount of compassion and person-centred care that all clinicians and practitioners had demonstrated. Thank you to everyone – I felt very proud.

Particular thanks to Gaby, Mel McNair, Jonathan and Amy. What a great team!