New localities structure launches as we look back on the year

What a great week and a great AGM. As our Chair David Rogers observed, what marked it out was that it was as much about looking forward to new opportunities as it was about celebrating what we achieved in the past year. That sums up where we are and where we aim to be going….Towards Outstanding. And this week sees an incredibly important step in our journey as our new locality structures go live.


Those of you lucky enough to attend this year’s AGM had a real treat. We were able to enjoy videos, presentations and even live voting sessions (with a few little hiccups along the way, but that’s live events and new technology for you!)

I was really proud to take part in the event and even more proud to see what our people and our teams across the Trust have delivered over the past year and continue to be proud to deliver as we move forward.​

The AGM was preceded by a fringe event where teams across Combined put on stalls and presentations of the fantastic work they’re doing, including a great polling booth to support our Staff Survey decorated by our service users and the launch of our brand new Trust website and new Intranet, packed with new features and content.

Of course, we published this year’s Annual Report and Quality Account – which you can download by clicking here.

We presented a video review of the year, a video celebration of our Quality Year and – once again – a fantastic animated film to deliver our finance results. Well done to the teams who supported the development of all three videos. You can watch the films in the links below.

We started the event reminding ourselves what we are all about and why we all work together to make mental health the highest priority:

  • 1 in 10 children have a diagnosable condition
  • 1 in 5 mothers have a mental health problem in the first year after childbirth
  • people with serious mental illness die over 20 years earlier compared to the general population
  • there is a 40-50% increase in the cost of care for people with long-term conditions and a mental health problem
  • there is a 40-50% higher percentage of people in secondary mental health services who experience unemployment compared to the general population
  • 91% of people in prison have a mental health problem
  • suicide is the leading cause of death of men aged 15-49

We also asked attendees to vote live at the event on what they thought about key aspects of our strategy moving forward. And it was incredibly heartening to see the positive endorsement of the approach we are adopting and the innovations we are introducing:

  • ​every single person agreed that we are right to put people at the heart of our Quality Approach
  • 90% agreed that our innovative use of animation to deliver our financial results helped with their understanding of our finances
  • 85% agreed that our locality approach – increasing our integration with primary and community care, social care and voluntary sector – will allow us to improve care for our service users



It’s a really exciting day today as we mobilise into our new structure, with Associate Directors and Clinical Directors formally responsible for their new Directorates. Service Managers and Quality Leads (Matrons) will be working with their new ADs and CDs to coordinate handover to new roles. I would be grateful if everyone can ensure this process is completed as swiftly and efficiently as possible for their areas of responsibility.

I am delighted to announce that Alastair Forrester has been appointed as Head of Nursing & Professional Practice. Alastair will transition to his role starting from 1 October 2018. This is an excellent appointment and, although it will be sad to lose Alastair from an operational perspective, I have no doubt he will do incredibly well in this post.

We have also completed our appointments to Service Manager and Quality Improvement roles.  Congratulations to everyone on their appointment. The management for the new structure, including the new appointments are:


Clinical Director, Darren Carr

Associate Director, Sam Mortimer

  • Brigette Hamlett – Quality Improvement Lead Nurse (Matron)
  • Simon Wilson – Service Manager – Newcastle
  • Nicky Griffiths – Service Manager – Moorlands


Clinical Director, Dr Dennis Okolo

Associate Director, Jane Munton-Davies

  • Sue Parkes – Quality Improvement Lead Nurse (Matron)
  • Rachael Birks – Service Manager – North
  • Darryl Gwinneth – Service Manager – South Stoke
  • David Smith – Service Manager – South Stoke Social Care Lead


Clinical Director, Dr Darren Perry

Associate Director, Ben Boyd

  • Stuart Fisher – Quality Improvement Lead Nurse (Matron)
  • Tina Mottram – Quality Improvement Lead Nurse (Matron)
  • Jessica Fitzgerald – Service Manager – LD & CAMHS IP
  • Fiona Platt – Service Manager – Neuro & Rehab
  • Darren Bowyer – Senior Service Manager – Substance Misuse
  • Craig Heffernan-Stone – Service Manager – Substance Misuse


Clinical Director, Carol Sylvester (Interim )

Associate Director, Natalie Larvin (Interim)

  • Dawn Burston – Quality Improvement Lead Nurse (Matron)
  • Val Stronach – Quality Improvement Lead Nurse (Matron)
  • Josey Povey – Service Manager – Urgent Care

We will start transitioning to our new structures from this week. I totally appreciate that this will mean change for lots of people in who their manager may be and in starting to think about how we may need to work in a different way. The professional lead roles at a directorate level are still to be completed. Phase 4 of the restructure will really be about how we can think of new ways of working and transformation. Our improvement partner AQUA will be working alongside us supporting this next phase. We really need to enable as many of our staff as possible to be equipped with improvement skills.

A very big thank-you to Jonathan O’Brien, our Executive Director of Operations, who has done a fantastic job in supporting the redesign to date. Jonathan of course hasn’t done this alone – Maria Nelligan and Dr Buki Adeyemo have led the professional structure and Nicky Griffiths has given Jonathan great support, as have the Clinical and Associate Directors, Nursing and HR teams. So a massive thank-you to everyone!


It was a packed agenda for the latest meeting of the Trust Board on Wednesday. I was able to update the Board on a host of developments and news that will be familiar to regular readers of my blog including:

  • submitting our CQC Provider Information Return on time;
  • our action on inclusion and diversity;
  • an update on the local system diagnostic supported by the NHS Delivery Unit;
  • our first ever conference for non-registered care workers;
  • our double contract success for Substance Misuse.

The Board received the annual report from our Research and Development Team. It was particularly heartening to see that during 2017/18, the total commercial income exceeded our Trust target, achieving a total increase of 152% for external funding, through undertaking training and delivery of a number of complex trials.

We approved the Trust’s first AHP Strategy. Within Combined, there are currently four AHP groups directly employed by the Trust working across the Trust Directorates:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Art Therapy

The Trust also currently maintains Service Line Agreements for the delivery of dietetic and additional Speech and Language services. The strategy has been developed in consultation with the AHP workforce who have identified six key strategic themes, namely:

  • Person centeredness
  • Recruit, retain, develop and support AHP workforce
  • Realising ambition and driving innovation
  • Forging relationships
  • Delivering quality services
  • Valuing achievement

This week, the Trust is holding our second AHP Conference. The event is a chance for team leaders, senior leadership team members, executives, AHP colleagues and partners to find out about our innovative practices, as well as formally launching the AHP strategy.

We were delighted to present this month’s REACH Award to Anna Frary, Deputy Ward Manager AMH Inpatient Services.  Completing the Trust’s people management programme and supporting ward 3 through the biggest pathway change in its history, Anna’s development and hard work have been recognised recently in her being appointed to the ward manager post on ward 3.

And we heard a compelling patient story from Shamus Harvey, a service user of Brighter Futures at Hillcrest. He talked approvingly of the facilities with which he is provided and praised the attitude of the people who look after him.  He said: “They understand what you’re going through. Everything has been nice and peaceful and quiet”. Shamus particularly valued staff coming to talk with him and the support he gets from peer support workers.

One area of concern came from a recipient of care previously provided by Combined Healthcare, which are transferring to the County Council under Section 75. She was worried that she hadn’t heard full details of how her care would continue under the new arrangements. Whilst stressing that our preference would have been for the transfer of responsibilities not to have taken place, we were able to follow up her concerns and reassure her that preparations were in place and that all patients would be receiving details of how the new arrangements would work.



Just a reminder that we’re launching our #CombinedFluFighter campaign this Friday 5 October.  We have a record number of vaccinators this year, with 27 staff trained and able to administer the vaccine.

The flu vaccination, or ‘jab’, is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus that can cause unpleasant illness in children and severe illness, even death, among at-risk groups, including older people, pregnant women and those with an underlying medical health condition. Studies have shown that the flu vaccine will help prevent you getting the flu. It won’t stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary, so it’s not a 100% guarantee that you’ll be flu free, but if you do get flu after vaccination, it’s likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it would otherwise have been.

Ultimately, it’s crucial that we do everything we can to protect not only ourselves, but our patients and colleagues too!

Our 24-hour Jab-a-thon
As part of the launch, we’re holding a 24-hour Jab-a-thon which gets underway from 6am on Friday 5 October until 6am on Saturday 6 October. To take part, simply give our Flu Fighter Team a call on 60122, or email and one of the team will come to you!

WIN with a Flu Fighter golden ticket

Will you be one of the lucky ones with a golden ticket in your 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!

Let’s do all we can this year to be the best-performing mental health trust in the country for vaccination of our frontline staff – please be a #CombinedFluFighter to help us achieve this goal!


I ended the week watching in awe as Sue Slater braved the shave at the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning for Macmillan Cancer Support!

The courageous act drew a crowd at the HQ boardroom as people cheered on Sue over a slice of cake as she took on the challenge for Douglas Macmillan Cancer Support.

You can still show your support to Sue by giving whatever you can here. Well done, Sue – we’re so proud of you.

Take a look at the before, during and after pictures here, or watch a short film to see it all in action!



As I mentioned in my blog a fortnight ago, it’s time for the NHS Staff Survey. The survey forms will be landing in everyone’s inbox this week, and remember we have incentives to encourage as many people as possible to take part:




  • For teams reaching their target response rate, they will automatically be entered into a prize draw to receive £250 to spend on a team-focused priority
  • Staff will have dedicated time off for completing the survey
  • Roaming polling stations, providing space to complete surveys, with staff on hand to provide IT support
  • All survey responses will be strictly confidential. Personal details and your individual responses will remain with Quality Health, which is external to the Trust.
  • The team supporting the delivery of the survey have done some great work with our service users and staff to produce some fantastic mobile polling booths, which will be going around the Trust over the next few weeks in the Staff Survey Roadshow.

Your manager will be encouraging you to take 10 minutes to complete your survey and tell is your views via dedicated laptops in the booths. We had a sneak preview of them at the AGM and the Exec Team thought they were fab!


I was privileged to be asked by the CQC to present at a national conference on our experiences and learning from the Stoke-on-Trent CQC system review last week. York and Birmingham were also asked to share their experiences.

Paul Edmondson-Jones, Director Social Care, Health Integration & Well-being Stoke-on-Trent Council, and Mark Seaton supported the event. It was really good to hear of others’ experiences and quite cathartic to be able to talk about the progress that has been made. The CQC is returning to Stoke in November and has already started a system review of Staffordshire. Both reviews will report on their findings before the end of the year.


I was really pleased with the progress that has been made at our STP Digital Board, which met on Friday. All our organisations across Staffordshire have worked really well together identifying collective digital priorities for us to submit for the end of this week to NHS England for significant funding to come into Staffordshire. I need to say a big thank-you to Gwyn Thomas, Digital STP Lead Director, Paddy Hannigan, the STP Chief Clinical Information Officer, and Chris Bird, Integrated Care Record Senior Responsible Owner, for leading this within a very short timescale.  Thanks also to all the Chief Information Officers for their work.