Celebrating a fantastic year by Caroline Donovan, CEO. @CombinedNHS

Celebrating a fantastic year

Caroline Donovan 

Many thanks to everyone who was able to make it to our AGM last Thursday. It really was a fantastic occasion and an opportunity to celebrate everything we have done over the past year with our own staff, our service users and our partners. I particularly enjoyed seeing all the stands in the breakout area and the main auditorium – thank you to everyone who supported the event.

We made a big effort this year into using video and social media to engage the audience. Joe McCrea, our Associate Director of Communications and his team did a stunning job of pulling together a Review of the Year film; it was great that so many people contributed to it – many thanks. We also played our Symphony of Hidden Voices film which gives very powerful personal voices from our diversity and inclusion conference. If you haven’t watched it click on the link above; it’s quite emotional and really helps to connect us to why we need to become an even more inclusive organisation.

For the first time this year we presented the financial section of the AGM in the form of an animated film. Our Executive Director of Finance, Performance and Digital, Suzanne Robinson and her team did a fabulous job writing the script and working with the filmmakers to bring to life a topic that can sometimes seem dry and difficult to understand.

To the best of our knowledge, we are one of the first trusts in the country to adopt this approach, which we think is highly innovative and was much appreciated by the audience. You can watch the film via our YouTube channel here – let us know what you think and if it helped you to understand our finances better!

Leading with Compassion scheme shortlisted for national Kate Granger award

Hot on the heels of winning at the Healthcare People Management Association (HPMA) 2017 Awards, we were delighted to hear at the end of last week that the Leading with Compassion recognition scheme has now been shortlisted in the Kate Granger Awards for Compassionate Care.

The scheme, which has been chosen as one of three finalists in the Organisation Category, was launched at Combined and has been rolled out across 11 NHS organisations in the region. To date, more than 500 Trust staff have been recognised and received a personalised badge and card.

As you will probably know, Kate Granger, who sadly passed away in 2016, worked tirelessly to raise awareness around compassion in the NHS through her #hellomynameis social media campaign and the awards continue this inspiring work. The awards will be presented at the Health and Innovation Expo 2017 in Manchester on Tuesday 12 September. You can make a Leading with Compassion nomination at www.nhscompassion.org/nscht/.

Explaining the challenges we face via BBC local radio

Some of you may have heard the BBC Radio Stoke interview I did on Thursday with Carol Sylvester, our Acting Clinical Director for Adult Mental Health Inpatient services. We went on the radio for a live discussion with the breakfast show host John Acres, who had recently met one of our service users who had concerns about our services.

We were not able to talk about the individual service user but were able to talk more broadly about mental health and personality disorder services. It was really good that John was bringing attention to mental health and clearly cared deeply.

We were able to have a really valuable chat about the challenges we face, how we seek to rise to them and the services we provide. The BBC are now wishing to explore with us how we can continue to raise people’s awareness and understanding of mental health services. You can listen to the interview here.

Annual Report now available

Following last week’s publication of our Quality Account, I am delighted to inform you that our 2017 Annual Report and Accounts is also now available. You can download a copy here. As part of our investment in specialist in-house desktop publishing and digital design skills, we have been able to produce a superb quality document at significantly reduced cost to the Trust. It is part and parcel of being smarter and more effective in the way we deliver services and outcomes.

We are really proud not just of the documents but, even more importantly, of the fantastic story of achievement and dedication our staff have delivered over the past year.

We will be making copies of them both available – along with other regular communications – in new display stands in our main areas where our service users and/or visitors pass by.

Our partnership with the GP Federation

We had a really positive meeting at our Clinical Partnership Board with our partner GPs. We continue to work closely together in supporting the continual improvement of services for our communities. Whilst we were disappointed not to win the tender we bid for in partnership with North Staffordshire GP Federation, we are now partnering with the successful provider on urgent care and have invited them on to the Alliance Board. We need to encourage an inclusive approach in the best interests of our communities we serve.

Meeting with senior leaders to discuss our plans for integrating services

Chair David Rogers and I attended a meeting of Chairs, CEOs and GP leaders across North Staffordshire one evening this week. We wanted to talk some more about our plans for integrating services more across North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent through our Alliance Board. It was a really positive meeting with a unanimous commitment to wrapping our teams around primary care.

You may also have read or heard recent rumours of Combined Healthcare merging with Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust (SSOTP) and South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) as those organisations start to work more closely together. We all discussed and agreed that this would not be happening as Combined are absolutely committed to the integration of services across North Staffordshire. The next steps for us will be building on the conversations we have had across the Trust about strengthening geographical working. It would be good for you all to be talking about this in your team meetings and passing on your ideas and views for how we can progress this.

Meeting with local MPs

I finished off the week by meeting with two of our local Members of Parliament, Gareth Snell MP and Ruth Smeeth MP. It was a really positive meeting – particularly given that Gareth and Ruth have taken such a keen interest in mental health issues. It was a pleasure to be able to discuss with them how we can continue to work together on the challenges we face and the services we provide for their constituents.