Continuing our journey to being inclusive and diverse

Promoting Freedom to Speak Up

It’s been a week where I’ve spent a lot of my time engaged in how we can support our staff to feel included and valued. One of the highlights was interviewing a range of excellent candidates for the role of our Freedom to Speak Up Guardian. The role of the Guardian is to work alongside our teams to continue to support the organisation in becoming a truly open and transparent place to work, where all staff are actively encouraged and enabled to speak up safely. It was great to have such interest in the role – we will soon be announcing the successful candidate. We would like to develop speak up champions across our services and directorates to support the Guardian so have a think about whether you would like to put yourself forward to support this important work.

Continuing our journey to being inclusive and diverse

In last week’s blog, I explained how pleased we were to welcome to Combined Yvonne Coghill OBE, Director of Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) Implementation from NHS England.

Ever since I became Chief Executive, I have made it a personal mission to attract, promote and support talent across Combined. We've got much to be proud of, but much more we can do. I was delighted, therefore, that Yvonne returned to the Trust this week to lead our first Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Focus Group. The purpose of the session was to enable us to review the experience that we offer to this group, identify where improvements can be made and highlight any good practice.

Among those who attended was Trainee Clinical Psychologist Cherelle Laryea, who said the focus group was “inspiring and encouraging”. She added: “The focus group provided a safe space for employees and a service user from a range of backgrounds, to discuss some of the unique experiences and challenges BAME staff and service users face. We were also able to discuss some of the more entrenched social and systemic issues which may contribute to the lack of racial equality that exists in the NHS.”

Following the focus group, we held our Leadership Academy, which concentrated on diversity and inclusion, in particular tackling workforce race inequality in the NHS, which is one of our key priorities. The session included a great presentation by Yvonne and Dr Habib Naqvi on WRES followed by an excellent discussion on the next steps towards building a more inclusive organisation.

A big thank you to the Diversity and Inclusion Team as well as everyone else who organised and participated in these events. We are going to establish a BME network across the Trust and I have personally committed to supporting the lead for that network. I have also committed to pursuing the potential for a BME leadership programme across the Staffordshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) providing the opportunity for our BME staff to be provided with greater opportunity. It was a rude awakening for me to realise how appalling the NHS is in developing BME leaders.

Final few days to register for our AGM

There’s still time to register your place for our Annual General Meeting (AGM), taking place this Thursday 10 August from 12.30pm at The Bridge Centre, in Birches Head Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 6NA. A buffet lunch will be served prior to the event getting under way at 1.30pm.

The AGM looks back on what has been a highly successful 12 months, celebrating our many achievements, and also looks ahead to the year ahead. These will be illustrated by a number of short films being shown on the day.

The event will include a number of stands showcasing our fabulous services, while our newly published Annual Report and Accounts and Quality Account will also be unveiled. Joe McCrea, our Associate Director of Communications has been cajoling people all week to be filmed for the AGM - there was no escaping him (I tried!). Pitch up to see an overview of the great highlights of the year.

A 'thank you' from Nicky Griffiths and family

Nicky Griffiths and her family have passed on their sincere thanks for all the many kind expressions of sympathy, cards and letters of condolence following the very sad loss of Justin Griffiths. They have also thanked everyone who generously contributed to the £800 raised for the University Hospitals of North Midlands’ Critical Care Unit.

Nicky has also expressed thanks to Stoke-on-Trent City Council, including the DOLs, Adult Safeguarding, Best Interest Assessor and Stoke Emergency Duty teams, Staffordshire County Council, including the Staffs Emergency Duty team, the University of Birmingham, including the West Midlands Regional AHMP Group, Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Groups, Staffordshire Police, ASIST advocacy service and Weston House Care Home.

The overwhelming attendance at the funeral service and the tributes made on the day and during this sad time have been a constant source of support to Nicky and her family and a measure of the high regard and affection in which Justin was held by all who knew him.

Thank you for your REACH Award nominations – please keep them coming in

We’re almost up to 100 REACH award nominations, which is great, but more are needed! As a reminder, you can make a nomination online at or download a nomination form from

If you’ve downloaded your form, you can either drop it into any of our Trust locations (please mark it ‘REACH Awards 2017 - Communications Team, Lawton House’), email it to communications@combined/ or post it to REACH Co-ordinator, Communications Team, Lawton House, Bellringer Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 8HH.

Continuing to build the Staffordshire STP

I finished off the week by meeting with the STP team Director, Finance Lead and Clinical Lead to discuss the latest developments in two of the workstreams that I lead for the STP - Mental Health and System Leadership and Organisational Development. The workstreams are really beginning to develop an exciting vision for how we can transform services for our local people.