Our clinical leadership celebrated at national HSJ Awards

Hi all... this week has seen opportunities for us to show everyone what great work we do and what great people we have.


I was really proud that Julia Ford was a finalist this week in the Health Service Journal Awards in the category Clinical Leader of the Year. Julia was nominated for her leadership of a new model of care that improves mental health and wellbeing, building resilience and early interventions directly within schools. By locating both herself and her CAMHS colleagues in eight schools, Julia has helped to facilitate collaborative working – engaging the whole school and local community in change. 

The awards ceremony took place in London, hosted by none other than Sir Lenny Henry, who you can see admiring Julia in the picture taken below live from the event! Julia attended alongside Helen MacMahon, Joe McCrea and two assistant head teachers from Stoke whose schools are part of the new care model - Helen Booth and Yvonne Scragg. A fine time was had by all according to reports and it was great to see our staff flying the flag for Combined Healthcare on the national stage. Julia was up against very senior colleagues from across the NHS in her category, so it was a superb achievement to have made the final shortlist. The eventual winner was a CCG Clinical Chair from Surrey Downs and it's entirely typical of Julia's generosity that one of the first things she did was to tweet her congratulations to her colleague.  


The challenges facing the local NHS show no sign of abating and much of my week was taken up with meetings with colleagues from across the local health and care economy, including hosting the latest meeting of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) System Review team, which I have agreed to lead on behalf of colleagues in health and local government across North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. At the end of the week Mathew Swindells, NHS England National Director of Operations and Information, met with system leaders to discuss our plans for improving health and social care. Mathew will be spending time supporting UHNM and the wider health and care economy going forward.


I was pleased to meet with our local MPs last week as part of our North Staffordshire health economy regular catch-up. We have now started to meet with MPs just as providers – Combined Healthcare, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) and Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust (SSOTP). Our main conversations were about urgent care, the financial situation at UHNM and the Stoke-on-Trent CQC System Report. It was a positive meeting with MPs offering to help us.


We held our latest Non Medical Prescribing conference on Thursday at Port Vale in conjunction with South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) – thank you to everyone who attended. The packed event was chaired by Maria Nelligan, our Director of Nursing and Quality and featured a number of highly respected speakers, including Dr David Healy, Professor of Psychiatry at Bangor University, and Stephen Bazire MBE, an Honourary Professor at the University of East Anglia, who spoke about shared decision making in mental health.
We also welcomed local carer Sue Tams, who gave a personal account of her experiences, and Dr David Shiers OBE, a Leek-based GP who spoke about the mental health journey he has been on with his daughter. Furthermore, our Research Manager Sue Wood gave a talk on the importance of research and tried to drum up volunteers for future studies! Well done to Jackie Nolan, Non Medical Prescriber Lead, for organising what I understand was a really fascinating event enjoyed by all.


Matt Johnson has made a fantastic contribution over many years to Combined Healthcare. Matt first joined the Trust in 1996 as an honorary Assistant Psychologist working with older adults and completed his older adults, child and specialist family therapy placements whilst he was training from 2001-4.

Matt took his first job as a clinical psychologist in the CAMHS Learning Disabilities (LD) Team on qualifying in 2004 and worked in the CAMHS LD Team for 10 years, holding a number of roles including Quality and Governance Lead, Clinical Lead, Service Line Manager and Team Leader. He moved to our Learning Disabilities directorate in 2015 and more recently took on a joint role as Clinical Director of Children and Young People’s services, where he has done a superb job. Matt met with me last week to tell me that he has accepted the post of Director of Clinical Services and Research at Caudwell International Children’s Centre at Keele University.  It's a great opportunity for him and one which I can fully understand was impossible to turn down. I'm truly delighted for him, even though it means we have to say farewell to one of our finest.


A big thank you to staff who has so far supported our #CombinedFluFighter campaign by receiving their vaccination – thereby protecting themselves, their colleagues, patients, friends and family. As well as our staff flu clinics, we are also getting ready for our second 24-hour staff Jab-a-thon, which gets underway from 6.30am on Thursday 7 December.

Alongside this, we held our first Flu Fighters peer vaccinators support group – these will take place monthly to provide peer support to all vaccinators. There was a thoughtful and reflective discussion, feeding back colleagues views and opinions on having the vaccination.