Trust Board brought us unsung heros, retirements & a heartfelt patient story

Last week was a week when we celebrated our staff survey results, heard a hugely impactful patient story at our Trust Board and continued the roll out of our new Combinations Podcast with a fabulous look at the front line music collective, Jam Factory.

This week, we’re inviting you to learn more about apprenticeships and submit and idea for Dragons’ Den!


The week got off to a perfect result with the publication of the NHS staff survey results. Everyone across the Trust put in a particularly strong effort this year to give their views and it was great to see a 6% increase in our response rate (58%) compared with last year, and 4% higher than the average rate in our benchmark group of 23 other mental health and LD Trusts in England.

What was even more gratifying was what you told us. This year the staff survey has been presented differently into 10 themes. Our results show we are average or above on all 10 themes, which is really positive.

One of the 10 themes is ‘Safe environment – bullying & harassment’. We were the highest performing of all mental health Trusts in England for this, which is a fantastic tribute to our staff and managers and indicates we are living our values.

On individual questions, I was particularly pleased that we scored the highest mental health Trust in the country for staff saying they felt well supported by their colleagues, again this is wonderful and demonstrates we are creating really supportive climates and valuing each other.

I was also really pleased that we scored the highest mental health Trust in the country for service user feedback being collected within our services, this is great recognition of all the work we have done on collaborating and listening to service users and carers to continually improve.

We have also made a whopping improvement with a reduction from 21% of BAME staff to 3% of BAME staff experiencing discrimination from manager/team leader/colleague. This is a great acknowledgement of the priority and investment we have put into making our Trust more inclusive. We do, however, have much more to do on continuing this particular improvement journey.

We scored above average for another 6 out of the 10 themes:

  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Safety Culture
  • Morale
  • Quality of care
  • Immediate Managers

and average for 3 other themes:

  • Quality of appraisals
  • Staff engagement
  • Safe environment from violence

Whilst we are enormously proud of the staff survey results, we must not be complacent and we need to continue focusing on improvement.

To celebrate this fantastic news, our Comms Team put together a short film to celebrate the news.


It was a particularly enjoyable Trust Board this month.

We were delighted to award the REACH Individual Award to Jodie Stolz and Nicola Richards – Receptionists at Lawton House. Jodie and Nicola work seamlessly together to provide an excellent service and both display the Trust’s values within their day-to-day work. They always welcome me to the Trust each day with a smile and a greeting, so I was particularly pleased to see them recognised.

We also had two retirements to mark.

Carol Drewery has always been a well-liked member of any team she has worked in, regarded as loyal, conscientious, a fountain of knowledge, supportive, helpful & all with a great sense of humour and fun.

Cath Walasiewicz, Registered Nurse in the Access Team, started in the NHS as a Health Care Support Worker at Bagnall Hospital at the age of 18 years before training to become an Enrolled Nurse at Stallington.

And we had the privilege of watching one of the most heartfelt patient stories we’ve ever seen. You can click on the video to watch Marcella detailing her journey through alcoholism, recovery and how One Recovery and the Edward Myers Unit helped her. It really was a powerful testimony and it was great to have Marcella attend the Board meeting in person and answer questions.


The Jam Factory in Hanley is a fantastic music and arts collective, allowing service users the opportunity to come together to enjoy each other’s company, learn how to play guitar, make music in its recording studio and even learn the Ukulele!

The latest edition of the Trust Podcast – Combinations – featured interviews with staff and users.  And the music was so good, that we even included full versions of some songs as bonus tracks, which was particularly fitting given that we ended the week by becoming the first NHS mental health Trust to have our own podcast available for download on Apple iTunes!

You can listen to all the episodes so far and subscribe via iTunes by clicking here. So you never have to miss an episode in future!


You have less than 2 weeks to apply for Dragons’ Den @ Combined! Applications close on 14 March, so don’t leave it any longer if you have an idea for financial or other support.

Click here to find out more about Dragons’ Den and to fill in the application form to apply for funding or support for small-scale innovative projects or ideas.

Dragons’ Den @ Combined will be held on 26 April at Longton Rugby Club, so make sure you save the date!

Please contact Kerri Mason if you need more information: e: t: 01782 441774 (FN 4774)


The Executive Team met for their monthly performance reviews this week with individual directorates. It was good to see continual improvements which is an indication that the new structures are starting to embed. It was particularly pleasing to see the consistently excellent performance across mandatory training, clinical supervision and PDRs which requires an enormous commitment from every staff member and teams. We have more to do to ensure the quality of our PDRs is meaningful and helpful to everyone as we enter into the next financial year.


We continue to have discussions with our health economy partners about our plans and contract for 19/20. As indicated in my previous blogs, these are challenging due to the health economy financial position. We continue to explore how we can maximise the mental health commissioning budgets across Staffordshire for the best service user experience.


As you will know, Natalie is moving into a new role next week as consultant nurse for Acute and Urgent Care Directorate and clinical lead for adult mental health. I need to sincerely thank her for her dedication and commitment she has shown in her leadership role for the adult in-patient and subsequent acute and urgent care role. I know she is very excited to be moving into her new clinical role.

I am also delighted to welcome Nicky Griffiths into her new role as associate director for acute and urgent directorate working alongside Carol Sylvester, our clinical director. Good luck Nicky – we look forward to welcoming you to the senior leadership team.


This week is National Apprenticeship week, with the theme of ‘Blaze a Trail’, recognising that apprenticeships are for those individuals and employers who have the spirit to blaze their own path and the passion to follow their dreams.

Apprenticeships are a great path for people at any stage of their career, from those starting out to those re-entering the workforce or those wanting to re-skill or change careers.

To celebrate all things apprentice, we have lots going on this week, so if you would like to find out if an apprenticeship can support you in your career, look out for the following:

  • 4 March is our first ever Apprentice Celebration event, to which all our current apprentices and those who have completed apprenticeships in the last 2 years have been invited
  • 5 March– there will be a drop-in session at Harplands Hospital Reception, between 12pm and 2pm for anyone interested in finding out more about apprenticeships. Click here to download the poster to print off and display in your work areas.
  • National Apprenticeship week podcast episode special – launching on Thursday 7 March

For further information about apprenticeships, please contact Carol Bain on ext. 2762 or email