Challenges, opportunities and successes

Hi all

Well what a week we have had - some fantastic events and some real challenges; a real reflection of the NHS!

At the end of last week I was delighted that the work we have led across the health economy on compassion funded by Health Education England was recognised nationally. Rob Cragg, our Deputy Director of People and Strategy, and Dr Sarah Leamann, Assistant Director of Human Resources at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM), travelled to London on our behalf to give a presentation on the work we have done on compassion as a finalist in the national Healthcare People Management Awards (HPMA). This is something that is very close to my heart as I started off the Leading With Compassion scheme as I really felt there was much we could do after the legacy of Mid Staffs to shine a light on the importance of compassion and celebrate just what fantastic compassionate staff we have. We now have 475 staff who have been nominated for their compassion by service users and carers, staff themselves or partners - wow, what an achievement to be so proud of!

Patrick Ross-Osborne, Senior HR Advisor, and Steve Jones, UNISON representative, also travelled to London to give a presentation about our Feel Good Friday initiative in support of our other HPMA nomination. Taking place on the first Friday of each month at Harplands Hospital, Feel Good Friday was set up as part of our ongoing health and wellbeing strategy and includes a range of stalls providing helpful information on health and wellbeing. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for both nominations.

Senior Leadership Team Meeting

On Monday, I chaired the latest Senior Leadership Team meeting. This is a really useful opportunity for all of our Heads of Directorate and Clinical Directors to get together with the Executive Team, discuss how things are going on the ground and plan for the next stage of what we need to do. One of the most interesting items was a host of ideas presented by NOAP Clinical Director Darren Carron how to make improvements for the arrangements for the duties of the senior on call role to ensure high quality, safe, equitable and sustainable provision within available resources. A Listening into Action (LiA) approach has been used to develop ideas following a Consultants Away Day in the autumn. 

For example, one concern expressed was that the senior on call is frequently the ‘first point of contact’ with regard to Mental Health Act assessments and other requests, meaning that existing services are frequently bypassed and less restrictive options are sometimes not adequately considered or appraised. In future, we may move to an arrangement whereby requests for assessments for patients who have an open episode of care can be accommodated by the responsible team wherever possible, so that involvement of the on call consultant is less of an occurrence.

We also discussed our future capital plan priorities, taking into account the massive financial challenge that we face across the local health economy. We were able to confirm our plans for the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit and also for e-rostering, which I know is something that will be make a significant difference to how we work.

We also signed off our directorate action plans based on the findings of our Staff Survey.  We know that the results of the survey were broadly positive, but there are areas which we can improve. We’ll now be implementing those action plans to respond to what our staff have told us - including through our Towards Outstanding Engagement programme designed to support teams to be the best they can be.

CAMHS transformation highlighted at Board

Our latest Trust Board meeting took place on Thursday and included a great presentation from Helen MacMahon, Head of Directorate for our Children and Young People’s directorate, on the transformation programme going on across our CAMHS services.

There is lots being done to help the community CAMHS service move towards outstanding, building on the excellent progress they have made.

As well as the excellent work they have done on care planning and risk assessments - working in true partnership with children and young people and carers though the North Staffs Children and Young People’s IAPT Youth Council and the parents council - 100% of children are now seen within 18 weeks for their first appointment. Well done to all the teams and keep up the continued improvement. 

REACH Individual Award presentation and retirements

Thursday's Trust Board also saw us present an Individual REACH Award to Stephanie Zahorodnyj, Team Leader with the NOAP County Community Mental Health Team. Stephanie has great leadership and managerial skills, a calm manner and ability to manage change rapidly.

These were all recognised by the CQC last year and were instrumental in our NOAP Community services achieving an ‘Outstanding’ rating. Stephanie is a natural leader who supports everyone through good times and bad and has developed others within the directorate – raising the bar for care of the elderly in the community. Her contribution to the Trust has been enormous and she is recognised at the heartbeat of the team, with her manager saying that “every member of the team would walk over hot coals for her!”

Alongside this, we also presented certificates giving thanks to those staff who have sadly retired from the Trust. Jeff Smith, a Joiner with our Estates team has retired after 38 years of service, while Ward 7 Manager Penny McDonaugh is retiring after 30 years with the NHS. Thank you to both for everything they have done - I know you will be sadly missed.

Citizen's Jury

Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Groups have set up a ‘Citizen’s Jury’ into access to mental health services in the local area. People with experience of using mental health services are being asked to share their views at one of the following drop-in sessions:

  • Tuesday 16 May from 10am-12pm and Tuesday 30 May from 5.30-7.30pm at Leek Community Fire Station, Springfield Road, ST13 6LQ
  • Tuesday 23 May from 5.30-7.30pm and Wednesday 31 May from 10am-12pm at Hanley Community Fire Station, Lower Bethesda Street, ST1 3RP
  • Wednesday 24 May from 2.30-4.30pm at Newcastle Community Fire Station, Knutton Lane, ST5 2SL

The jury will look at access to current mental health service provision, will be able to call for evidence and will then develop recommendations to inform and improve the commissioning of mental health services in the future. Alongside the drop-in sessions, there is also an online survey for people to give their views.

Raising our Service Excellence update

You will have seen on the news that the NHS was the victim of a cyber attack of ransomware on Friday demanding payment in virtual bitcoins. I can confirm that we were one of the 48 NHS organisations that were infected (very many more were affected, of course).

I want to extend a massive vote of thanks to everyone who worked so tirelessly and professionally over the weekend to continue to provide the highest quality care, to manage the impact and to resolve the problems. It seems unfair to pick out individuals from a considerable team effort but David Hewitt, Ben Boyd, Joe McCrea, Darryl Gwinnett, Andrew Hughes and the duty senior nurses really have gone above and beyond.

We have worked with colleagues across the health economy to ensure that patient care was not compromised and I am pleased to report that no data was lost or illegally accessed.

As I am sure you will appreciate we were unable to go live with ROSE over the weekend due to the cyber attack - this is an incident we couldn't mitigate! I know this will be disappointing as so many were part of the enormous effort to go live. This was not in vain and in fact the planning we did put us in really good stead with the cyber attack. Going live with ROSE remains a very high priority - we want to achieve this urgently and are working with NHS Digital and suppliers DXC to agree a new go live date as soon as possible. We will let you know as soon as this is agreed.

Celebrating and Nurturing Nursing Excellence conference

We marked International Nurses Day on Friday in style with our Celebrating and Nurturing Nursing Excellence conference, held at Port Vale FC. It was a hugely successful event, led by our Director of Nursing & Quality Maria Nelligan and Julie-Anne Murray, our Head of Nursing & Professional Practice and featured a number of talks and presentations celebrating our nursing staff and the huge contribution they make to improving the lives of our service users. 

I was unfortunately unable to attend the event, but I recorded a video talking about my journey from being a registered nurse to CEO. I am told the talk given by dementia care campaigner Tommy Whitelaw about his mother was extremely touching and left many of our nurses very emotional. During Tommy's talk he spoke about What Matters to You Day on 6 June, which aims to encourage and support more meaningful conversations between those who provide and receive care. We will be encouraging our staff to get involved and you can find out more here.

We were also lucky to have a talk from award-winning mental health nurse Julie Sheen, who spoke eloquently about her journey from service user to mental health nurse. Both Tommy and Julie helped us to launch our Pledge Tree posters - staff took them away to their teams and are being asked to write individual pledges of care. 

The event additionally saw the launch of a competition to design a new nursing badge for staff to wear, while our retire and return initiative was warmly received.

The afternoon was given over to a ‘supercharge safari’ in which staff were able to discover more about a series of themes exploring how we can further nurture nursing excellence, while the event concluded with our Mentor of the Year Award being presented to Mel Hope and Preceptor of the Year Award presented to Deb Scragg. Well done to everyone for making the event such a success.

Deaf Awareness team wins recognition award

Well done also to our Deaf Awareness team, who collected a Special Recognition Award from the charity DEAFvibe on Friday in recognition of the hard work that has gone in to improving mental health services for the local deaf community. The nomination from DEAFvibe said: "The Trust has a strong team whose staff are committed to making a difference to the lives of deaf people with mental health issues and this is demonstrated in the fact the Trust signed up to the Deaf Charter this year."


This is fantastic news and is testament to the hard work of the team in raising awareness and making a difference to the lives of the local deaf community.