Rising to the efficiency challenge and celebrating our Valuemakers


We have received initial feedback from the Care Quality Commission on their recent inspections. There will be a further process to undergo now, as the CQC give us their detailed feedback and ask for our response before publishing their detailed findings and headline ratings. But I wanted to share the high level news with you as soon as possible.

The great news is that they stressed how impressed they were with what they heard from our staff across the Trust, what the saw throughout their inspections and the evidence we provided to them. Their overall impression was that we had clearly continued our journey of improvement since they saw us last year. Amongst the areas the CQC highlighted as examples of good practice are:

  • Caring and compassionate staff across the whole Trust.
  • Service user and carer involvement and engagement, including evidence of lessons being learned by us following feedback.
  • Good staff morale and a culture of team-working.
  • A strengthened approach to equality and diversity.
  • High standards of cleanliness across all environments.
  • Openness and transparency and a clear commitment to Freedom to Speak Up.
  • Strong approach to physical healthcare with an emphasis on nutrition and health eating.

The praise for our staff and services was across the whole Trust, but there were one or two areas which drew the CQC’s particular praise, including:

  • Significant progress made in our CAMHS services, particularly around waiting lists, oversight and transparency.
  • Innovative work on new care models via the Meir Partnership Care Hub, delivered with the North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Alliance.

Of course, there are some areas where the CQC think we need to make improvements.  The most frequently mentioned of these was the need to continue to embed our Lorenzo Electronic Patient Record as this is still in its early stages of implementation. Thank you to each and every one of our staff for showcasing the fantastic work they do, day-in day-out, of which they should be very proud.


There are lots of things that make me proud of Combined Healthcare, but one of the foremost is our ability year after year not only to deliver compassionate, accessible, responsive and excellent care, but to do so while delivering our financial targets.

Writing this year’s Annual Report, it was a sheer pleasure to be able to say we’d achieved an amazing 18th consecutive year of financial surplus - making us on of the top NHS financial performers in the region. That's an amazing achievement because, every year, we don't simply have to break even, but we have to deliver stretching efficiency targets -and this year, the challenge is tougher than ever.

We spent some time at this week’s Executive Team meeting receiving the latest update from our Director of Finance, Performance and Digital Suzanne Robinson, on how we’re doing. The good news is that we’ve succeeded in identifying lots of ways in which we can continue to deliver excellent care whilst saving money. But the other news is that we still need to find more!

I know that there will be lots of ideas that our staff have for how we can do things more cleverly or more efficiently; and it’s not about simply cutting budgets. More often than not, doing things with better value for money goes hand in hand with higher quality. That’s what lies at the heart of our Valuemakers programme, which asks for our staff’s ideas to increase value in how we do things. Suzanne and the Finance team travelled to London last Thursday to present what we’re doing to the Healthcare Finance Management Association and they were hugely impressed. I really look forward to seeing them proudly on show across the Trust in the coming weeks!


I finished off the week by opening a great and well-attended event put on by our Director of Nursing and Quality, Maria Nelligan’s team - our first Person Centredness Framework Planning Day.  This was a whole day devoted to service users and staff coming together to discuss how we can really make sure that we place the individual at the centre of how we design and deliver services. The organisers stressed that they wanted participants to have fun during the day, and a lot of fun was had. But that didn’t prevent some really challenging conversations and contributions from taking place. In my opening remarks, I stressed that being ‘person centred’ means making a reality of the ‘P’ in our SPAR quality priorities - to deliver services that are personalised. It’s also about looking after our staff and ensuring we treat them as individuals.


The latest figures from the Flu Fighter campaign show we're now up to 34% of staff vaccinated.  The team leading our vaccinations tell me that that's further ahead of where we were this time last year, but we need to keep the effort up to beat last year's nationally leading performance. Our success with flu vaccination rates was specifically highlighted by the CQC in their feedback to us and our Chair, David Rogers, told us that last week he was at a meeting of regional chairs and a slide came up featuring the best performers in flu vaccination and he was proud to see us right at the top. So we have a good reputation to keep up. David has had his flu jab and said: “I'm proud to play my part for #CombinedFluFighter. Let's smash our own record this year!"