Improving our frontline feedback methods

Hi all

It’s a real pleasure to be able to introduce another CEO Blog packed full of achievements, progress and accolades.


In my last blog, I explained how I’ve asked our Communications Team to carry out a review and come back to the Executive Team with proposals on how to improve our frontline feedback methods.   This work continues apace and was reinforced by a really valuable and enjoyable meeting I held last week with our CAMHS ASD team and Paediatric Psychology, based at Dragon Square – many thanks to Jodie Stokes and her colleagues for being such welcoming hosts.  

The team told me that sometimes they find it difficult to see what has happened as a result of ideas and feedback that they provide.  This is a key component of the Strategic Review of Communications, agreed by the Board last Autumn, which proposed a disciplined “Active Listening” business process – building on the traditional ‘You said, We did’ – whereby each item of listening or feedback is analysed to identify whether or not something specific is being suggested or requested, logged, tracked and feedback provided to the original proposer upon completion. The important principle is that EVERY specific suggestion receives an individual and specific response, rather than a generic reply.  

Once the Active Listening Business Process has been road-tested and optimised for items captured via the Director Team Engagement process, the option will be available to integrate items currently captured via existing business procedures covered by the Being Open Report, which could lead to significant improvements in its efficiency and efficacy. The Communications Team would still welcome any ideas or comments as they complete their work and I would invite anyone with a suggestion or idea to email them at – and please put the text “Review of frontline feedback methods” in the subject line. Once the Review is completed, we will publish its findings and recommendations.


The reputation of our crisis care centre goes from strength to strength with two important external endorsements of the uniqueness of its approach and services.

The first endorsement is its inclusion in a new Report from the Positive Practice in Mental Health Collaborative – on leading practice in  “All Age Crisis Care Pathways.”  This important Report highlights the very best examples of crisis care across the age groups from Children and Young People´s Mental Health, through Adult Services to Older People’s Mental Health.  It talks of the importance of equal and inclusive access, person centred care, and getting the right help at the right time in the right way.

The Collaborative is a good friend to Combined Healthcare and a unique, user-led, multi-agency collaborative of 75 organisations including NHS trusts, clinical commissioning groups, police forces, voluntary sector organisations, frontline charities and service user groups. Its aim is to identify and disseminate the positive practice of mental health services by working together across organisations and sectors, to facilitate shared learning and raise the profile of mental health with politicians and other policy makers. Practice is shared through special interest groups, events, the National Mental Health Awards and virtual networks, as well as through the PPiMH’s national online guide to mental health services:

The Report was published at an event on February 4th at the House of Commons Churchill Room.  The Trust was represented by our Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Operations, Jonathan O’Brien, together with frontline staff from the Crisis Care Centre – you can watch Jonathan’s “House of Commons Maiden Speech” in the link attached!

The second endorsement of the centre came in the form of a visit to the centre from managers and staff working in a number of NHS Trusts across the West Midlands, seeking to learn how we have successfully delivered an all-age, 24×7, 365 days a year service, including walk-in facilities.  The visitors were welcomed by our Deputy Chief Executive and Medical Director, Dr Buki Adeyemo, and the discussions and tour confirmed to us that the unique service we have pioneered is an example that others are eager to follow.

We plan to build on this interest by holding a special seminar at Harplands Hospital in the near future when representatives from an even wider range of Trusts and external organisations can learn from our leading edge practice and delivery.


We’ve vaccinated over 80% of our frontline staff against the flu, hitting the ambitious target set by NHS England. 

A HUGE THANK YOU to all our staff who have had their vaccination, and
thank you to our wonderful team of vaccinators who have been working hard over the winter months to reach as many staff as possible. 

Though we may have hit the 80% target, we’re not stopping there. We’ll be out and about, offering vaccines to our staff until the end of March.

If you’ve had your flu jab elsewhere, please remember to complete a declaration form. If you wish to decline the vaccination altogether, please also let us know. 

Staff can also contact IPCT directly for help, information and support.

There are lots of clinic dates running through the rest of January and throughout February. Otherwise, staff can Dial or Text-a-Jab or email and one of our many vaccinators will come out to you when it suits you.


We’re proud to play our part in making a success of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent “Together We’re Better” STP and Tuesday 28 January 2019 was a significant day as we celebrated, as a system, the launch of the first national pilot of the NHS High Potential Scheme. 

I was really proud to launch the event as the STP Accountable Officer for the System Leadership and OD Programme, together with Shajeda Ahmed, our Director of Workforce, OD and inclusion and Programme Director for the OD and Systems Leadership work stream in the STP. 

The purpose of the event was to launch the leadership journey of our first cohort of 16 participants.

Representation at the event from all of our partner organisations highlighted the underpinning theme – the power of collaboration. Without each organisation’s openness to work together to recruit our participants we would not have been able to implement and launch the scheme so successfully

This exemplar of system working was celebrated and acknowledged by Simon Whitehouse, Director of the STP, when he addressed the room, thanking our assessors, steering group members, careers coaches, sponsors and executive mentors for their support. 

We were also fortunate to hear insights from national speakers Andrew Foster, Interim Managing Director of the NHS Leadership Academy and Gaynor Walker, Senior Programme Manager, National Equality and Health Inequalities Unit, Nursing Directorate, NHS England and NHS Improvement.

It is worth highlighting the amazing achievement of our 16 participants who gained a place on the programme, following a rigorous assessment process. Congratulations to our two participants from Combined: Michael Groden, Senior Advanced Nurse Practitioner and Sharon Black Senior Counsellor, Interpersonal Psychotherapy Team Leader.  I would like to to wish every participant success on their two-year journey to become our senior leaders of the future.

Many thanks, as well, to our Trust OD and Communications Teams for their sterling work in preparing and running the event.