Simon Stevens and the NHS England Executive Team welcomed to Harplands Hospital

Hi all... this was a week when I was delighted to see North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare really showing its leadership and quality on the national stage, but firstly I must thank each and every one of our staff who made it into work to support our service users over the weekend. I was on call at the weekend and was incredibly impressed with the commitment shown by our staff during the adverse weather conditions.


On behalf of the entire Trust and the Staffordshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), myself and our Chair, David Rogers, were honoured on Thursday to welcome the NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens and his national Executive Team to Harplands Hospital for a meeting of the NHS Executive Team. The national NHS team were visiting Staffordshire to receive an update from the STP on how its plans are progressing, the challenges it is facing, and to hear direct about some of the great innovations going on at a local level. 

We were delighted to have the chance to spend some time showcasing our delivery of new partnerships and models of care via the North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Alliance.  

Maria Nelligan, our Director of Nursing & Quality, also welcomed the Chief Nursing Officer for England, Jane Cummings and showed the National Director for Transformation and Corporate Operations, Emily Lawson, around Wards 4 and 6 to see some of our great staff in action. Thanks to all ward staff for showcasing our services so well.

Well done to everyone involved in planning and delivering the event – including the members of the Alliance Board who presented to Simon and his team. You really did us all proud. This was the first time that a mental health trust has hosted such an event for the NHS Executive Team and it was simply great to see mental health services getting this recognition – showing true parity of esteem from our national leaders.


This time of year is always one of the busiest and most challenged for the NHS.  I’m always keen to spend as much time as possible visiting our staff out on the frontline. Both myself and David Rogers were delighted to visit the RAID team, who were able to show us the work they do day in day out at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM). They are clearly greatly appreciated and do a fantastic job. It is great to see the service now operating 24/7 and also hear the about the fantastic work the older people’s’ Outreach Team are doing.


Whilst we were at Harplands welcoming the NHS Executive Team, our Director of Finance, Performance and Digital, Suzanne Robinson, and our fabulous Finance team were flying the flag for Combined Healthcare 160 miles away in London, preparing for the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) Awards – where they were up for the Havelock Training Award.

The award recognises best practice in the training and development of finance staff or the raising of financial awareness and skills within the wider non-financial workforce. And, in the words of Suzanne tweeting directly from the event "We only went and won it!" Massive congratulations to Suzanne and the Finance team for their very well deserved success.​


This week, we’re delighted to welcome Alex Brett to the Trust as our new Director of Workforce, Organisational Development and Communications – she will be a fantastic addition to our team. Alex’s commitment to developing and building partnerships, as well as supporting a fantastic workforce, is perfectly aligned with our own values and the vision we are pursuing over the coming years. We could not be happier to have her coming on board.

Alex brings a wealth of experience and award-winning achievement at Board level in Organisational Development and HR from across the local NHS. She began her NHS career 28 years ago as a nurse in the then City General Hospital. Her values and personal drivers are grounded in clinical practice with patients at the very heart of what she does, having a strong clinical and managerial background, along with educational and organisational development skills.

Much of the work Alex has led has involved managing and leading teams to become catalysts for innovation and change in organisations, as facilitators and enablers. She is used to working across partnerships and has worked significantly with NHS and care organisations, including GP practices, across North Staffordshire in a number of different roles. She is a qualified Coach and Team Coach and was the Health Education West Midlands Coach and Mentor of the Year 2016.


The latest Leadership Academy focussed on our plans for developing locality working and was led by our Director of Strategy and Development, Andrew Hughes. Our Guiding Principles and Direction of Travel are:

  • Accepting system accountability for performance and improvement
  • Standing up as the solution to the CQC Local System Review
  • Developing an infrastructure to co-ordinate and deliver
  • Ensuring that projects enable change at scale and deliver improved outcome and demonstrable return on investment
  • Altering existing commissioning arrangements towards an Alliance contract that sets locally relevant outcomes and performance measures
  • Moving to a future that is based on economic development and growth

The session considered such questions as:

  • What are the benefits and challenges of moving to a locality based service provision for (i) service users/ carers, (ii) staff and (iii) public?
  • What services can be delivered within localities and what needs to be ‘Trust wide’?
  • What would make locality working effective?

Andrew explained that our next steps are:

  • Develop a proposal for consultation – Jan 2018
  • Consult across the Trust and partners – Feb/ Mar 2018
  • Implementation – consider phasing – Apr/ May 2018


We have continued to work on the Stoke system plan last week and met with all the Chief Officers on Friday to finalise the plan. I am really pleased with how it has progressed and was impressed with the partnership working, with an enormous commitment shown by all and a real willingness to improve. I will be presenting the plan to the Health and Wellbeing Board on Thursday before it is sent off to the CQC at the end of the week.

I was pleased that mental health was recognised last week as being able to support winter and urgent care. Through Clare Murdoch’s leadership £20m has been identified for mental health which translated to about £300k for Staffordshire. We only had 24 hours to respond to submit our bids, but are hopeful we will get some non-recurring funding to support service users more over the winter period – a big thank-you to Jane Munton-Davies, Head of our Neuro and Old Age Psychiatry Directorate, for her support.