Improving Together: Shaping a positive future through collaboration - CEO Caroline Donovan's Blog - 8 July 2024 | News and events

Improving Together: Shaping a positive future through collaboration - CEO Caroline Donovan's Blog - 8 July 2024

An extremely interesting week for the country last week. England showing solid teamwork by making their way through to the semi-final of the European Football Championships – well done to the team!  

However, the general election result is the area of interest that has a closer link to the work we deliver in the NHS. In Norfolk and Suffolk we have 12 new MPs. It is important now to work with these MPs, to brief them on our progress and plans – for our services and ultimately their constituents – the people we provide care for. I am keen to start building these relationships, alongside our Chair, in the coming weeks and months.

Improving Health

Looking ahead to next week, I can share that we will be in a position to talk publicly about our learning from legacy deaths review and our mortality data. A report will be taken to our Trust Board meeting in public which will review all deaths over the last five years, including the period of the Grant Thornton report. There has been a herculean effort by many colleagues to complete this vitally important review – I am hugely grateful to the many people who have helped so much. This work enables us to identify the key themes surrounding the very sad deaths of those in our care, the work we are already doing to address those areas, and work that we need to do to deliver further improvements. It is paramount that we make sure we are truly learning from the circumstances surrounding the sad loss of lives of people’s loved ones.

We’ll be publishing our board reports, which will contain details of this progress, on 18 July as part of our Board of Directors meeting in public papers pack, ahead of the meeting which will be held online on 25 July. We will hold a special briefing for all staff on Wednesday 17 July so that you can hear what we have found and learnt following our review of legacy deaths ahead of publication. This is a vital part of my commitment to you to make sure our staff hear important information about our Trust and our work before it’s available outside the organisation. Please do attend if you can – a link to join this meeting will be sent to you all.

Ahead of the publication of this important report, I was pleased to have a second opportunity to meet with members of the Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Crisis Campaign Committee last week. During the meeting, I was able to hear and answer their concerns and give an in-depth update of our improvement work linked to our four strategic priorities: improving health, improving care, improving culture and improving value. Whilst it is distressing to hear from members of the Campaign about their difficult experiences with our services, it is vital that we listen carefully, apologise for failings in care and are open and transparent about our plans for improvement. I am really pleased to be able to share with you that we are planning to launch our new Service User and Carer Council in July which will also help us to listen and improve our services. I am delighted our new chief Nurse, Anthony Deery, alongside Jodie Butcher are leading this work and that there are many people interested in joining the council. It is proposed that the chair of the council will be in attendance at our Trust Board meetings.

Improving Care

Under our priority of ‘improving care’ is our continuing work towards implementing our future leadership structure with our five new localities. We are currently actively recruiting for our 15 Locality Medical Directors, Locality Directors of Nursing and Quality and Locality Directors of Operations. I am delighted that we have some really strong candidates who have applied – both from our own workforce and from outside the Trust.

Last week, we launched phase 2 of this consultation which focuses on clinical network leadership and management teams. Staff in scope for this phase of consultation include Associate Clinical Directors, Deputy Service Directors, Lead Nurses, Deputy Lead Nurses, Senior Allied Health Professional Lead roles and Senior Psychology roles.

I also want to give everyone assurance that social care leadership forms a vital part of our plans with a new Principal Social Worker role forming a prominent part of our new structure.

I was delighted to attend a Particip8 information session recently. Particip8 are a group of inspirational young people who work with us to co-produce Children and Young People’s services. At the event I really enjoyed hearing about how they are strengthening the voice of young people who use our services. It’s examples like this of strong, meaningful co-production with people who use our services that I want to inform planning for our Service User and Carer Council.

Engaging service users is an area that one of our colleagues has excelled in – a huge congratulations to Gemma Harris. Gemma is a People Participation Co-ordinator and recently won a national Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership award in recognition of her important work increasing the number of people with lived experience working with us in our quality improvement projects. Thank you so much Gemma – the positive benefit of this on our services and those that use them should not be underestimated.

Improving Culture

Onto our theme of Improving culture, and a few weeks back, I was thrilled to be joined at our Leadership Conference by Yvonne Coghill CBE. Yvonne spoke passionately at the event about the vital link between the experiences of our Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff in the workplace and overall service user, families and carer experience. Building on this, we have commissioned ‘Excellence in Action’ – this is a programme of work led by Yvonne to support us in our ambition to significantly reduce the disparities faced by staff from non-white backgrounds. This work will focus on collaborating with all of us to help us to understand the complexity of the race agenda and to become strong and confident allies. It will also include analysis of our workforce data and recommendations for change, plus a clear and defined action plan that will help us realise of ambition of reducing disparities.  

Improving Value

I must take this opportunity to talk about our NHS England Oversight and Assurance Group meeting which was held last week. We heard about some significant areas of progress – in particular from our Clinical Improvement Lead, Samantha Mortimer. Sam shared information about the progress of our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. A huge well done to our Suffolk team for the excellent progress made on referral to assessment and treatment and a further well done to our Norfolk team for the progress made on referral to assessments. The progress shared in the meeting was positively recognised by the many stakeholders in attendance.

I also want to share how delighted I am with today’s news that our bid to continue providing NHS Talking Therapies in Suffolk (previously known as Wellbeing Services) has been supported by commissioners. We’ll be delivering the service via an innovative new partnership approach which brings together voluntary, community, social enterprise and statutory (VCSE) organisations. This means that we have been able to maintain contracts for both Norfolk and Suffolk Talking Therapies until at least 2029 and is testament to the hard work delivered by the services over the past six months to improve access to the service and reduce waiting times.

In fact, I am delighted to hear we are among the top performing Trusts in the country for access to this service (first in Suffolk and third in Norfolk and Waveney). Of course, we are not complacent and our engagement with service users, families and carers in developing this service has been essential to shaping the new model which formed our successful bid and will help us to deliver safer, kinder and better care for the future.

Finally, I want to end my blog by reflecting on the tragic news we received last week confirming the death of our colleague Dr Ramaswamy Jayaram (Dr Jay as many of you knew him). Dr Jay most recently worked in our Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team in Suffolk and had dedicated 20 years to providing care to patients in the NHS. It is so very hard to learn of the death of a colleague, particularly in such terrible circumstances. I know many of you will have been deeply affected by his loss. I have been blown away by the team spirit and enormous compassion that Dr Jay’s colleagues have shown to his family. I have also shared my deepest condolences on behalf of us all with his family at this tragic time. I urge those of you who may need support to contact our TRIM service.

Take care until next time,


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