Chief exec’s leadership blog for October 2022

It has been a busy few weeks since the summer holidays came to a close and already the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder.  At the same time I know our services have been as busy as ever, with no summer lull that we tend to expect and no respite before the winter demands are upon us again.

Dr Sara Munro, chief executive of the Trust

Since my last blog there have been a lot of significant changes beyond the Trust.  We have a new prime minister and a new ministerial cabinet including Therese Coffey – our fourth health secretary in as many years.

We also have a new King following the sad and sudden passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and we paused for a ten day period of mourning. This culminated in a public holiday which colleagues made arrangements for quickly and expertly, and I am truly grateful to all those front-line staff who worked on that day. It was a privilege to join the Trust’s memorial service led by our Chaplain Rev. Sam Cowling-Green which can be watched on our You Tube channel.


A Plan for Patients

After the period of mourning, our new Health Secretary published her NHS priorities entitled Our plan for patients.

I’ve summarised the main highlights below:

Patients will be informed and empowered through better sharing of data and transparency of information on alternative pathways for their own care.

Prevention: supporting health lives through screening, home-based monitored and expanding mental health support in schools. Supporting people to remain or return to employment is also included.

Primary care: meeting public expectations on access to GPs through access targets, technology and expanding the role of pharmacies.

And, here’s the ABCD bit which made headlines, improving performance and productivity across the four key areas of:

  1. Ambulances – expanding 111, reducing ambulance response times and handover delays, creating additional bed capacity for the winter.
  2. Backlogs – reducing elective waiting times with new targets set for the next three years, expanding community diagnostics, prioritising urgent treatment for conditions such as cancer, better use of data and digital to increase productivity and patient choice.
  3. Care – additional investment of £500 million for social care to support discharge from hospital and free up beds. Recruitment campaigns to expand the social care workforce. Investment in IT to free care staff up. Delivering on the ‘cap and means test’ reforms by October 2023.
  4. Doctors and Dentistry – freeing up GPs to deliver more direct care to their patients, changing the dental contract to encourage more dentists to take on NHS work and expansion of the wider dental workforce.
No workforce, no plan

Delivering on these commitments is of course dependent on having enough of the right people to provide care and support to people. We know from our own experiences in the Trust, workforce shortages are already challenging. And without a workforce, there is no plan. So, some additional actions around workforce were also announced.

These included:

Incentivising staff retention and the return of retired staff (which we’re already doing successfully at LYPFT), by creating additional pension flexibilities and correcting pension rules regarding inflation.

Keeping the emergency registers of health professionals for two more years.

Recruiting more skilled staff from overseas and making it easier for qualified health professionals to practice here (we’ve already welcomed overseas nurses and have more in the pipeline).

Supporting new models of care and new roles for frontline health professionals, including expanding the number of mental health practitioners in primary care and strengthening mental health support in schools.

Supporting the NHS and social care to make the most of digital technology (our own Digital Strategy will be published soon).

There was limited mention of mental health, learning disability and autism services in this the plan. But, we are clear as a Trust and as a sector that we continue to have a firm mandate to expand and deliver against the NHS long-term plan priorities.

I’ve been assured the national commitment to increase growth in our sector over the next two years has not changed. We’ll be having a regional meeting this month to agree how we work in our local place system of Leeds, at regional partnership level, and beyond.


Tackling poverty and the Cost of Living crisis

For many months we’ve been facing a cost-of-living crisis. This is affecting our staff as well as many of our vulnerable service users, many of whom are more exposed to the effects of poverty, health inequalities and deprivation – before you add the rising cost of living.

We have been listening to feedback and ideas from staff across the Trust, including our staff side reps too on what we can do to support you. We’ve been promoting our cost-of-living offer to staff for many months, and this month we agreed a raft of further measures around things like faster salary payments.

We’re now turning our attention to our most vulnerable service users as winter approaches, and we’re working with our partners across the health and care system on solutions.

For example, in Leeds a group of organisations called the Leeds Anchors Network (of which we are one) has launched a campaign called Together Leeds – Helping with the cost of living.

This brings together the city’s offer in one place and covers finance, housing, employment, health and food.  Our winter plans are looking at how we can ensure service users have access to food, warmth and essential supplies to help keep them safe in the community.


Our Services and Our People

One of the best things about my job is getting out to visit our services in person and I recently dropped in on our Specialised Supportive Living Service.

It was great to see more of the diverse care and support the team provides ranging from supporting individuals who can live more independent lives and are active in their local communities through to individuals who require intense support for complex physical health care and challenging behaviour.

Its inspiring to see such true person-centred care and support. The leadership team have reinvigorated the work across the service on shared values and opportunities for learning, which were hampered during covid.

If you or someone you know is interested in improving the health and lives of people with significant mental and physical health needs, they’re hiring.

Thanks also to the team at The Mount – I know they continue to work in challenging circumstances with staff having to cover across the wards at times to maintain safe staffing levels. It is testament to the compassion and dedication of the whole team at The Mount that they continue to support one another. The management team will be implementing some changes to the service in the next few weeks to ease the pressure on staff.


Preparing for winter – let’s get the jabs done again

Summer doesn’t feel that long gone, but we’ve been focused on planning for winter for many weeks now. We’ve all read the headlines about the NHS being under pressure and under fire. And we’ve got through a summer that’s felt like a very difficult winter already.

However, if there is one thing we can all do to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our health and care services, it’s getting our flu and covid jabs when called.

The worst of the pandemic may be behind us, but Covid has not gone away. Our inpatient wards continue to deal with the very real impact of Covid every day which I saw first-hand at The Mount. It makes a tough job even tougher. On top of this we are concerned that the effects of flu will be harsher than ever this year given our normal exposure to the virus has been limited over the last two years due to periods of distancing and isolation.

So please, do your bit and get your jabs done!

It’s a massive reasons to be proud round up

Our teams and individual staff members are being nominated and shortlisted for industry awards at a rate I’ve not seen in all my years at the Trust. This is simply remarkable when I think about how the teams have had to work over the past couple of years whilst finding time and space to continue to improve and adapt. I’ve long said that our work at LYPFT is as good, if not better, than a lot of the work that gets nominated for awards, and it looks like our industry experts now agree with me.

Here’s a quick round up (apologies if I’ve missed any)

Wins at the National Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards 2022 for the Veterans High Intensity Service and the Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service, with a highly commended for the Specialised Supported Living Service (pictured below).

Staff celebrating at the Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards 2022

Our R&D Team won in the Improved Processes and Systems category of the Medipex NHS Innovation Awards for their project to create a Consent for Contact register, increasing service user access to opportunities to participate in research.

The Leeds Synergi project won in the Health Category at the Legacy Awards.

Our Vaccination Team: shortlisted for the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Patient Safety Award 2022 for Improving Health Outcomes for Minority Ethnic Communities

Tara Mitchell is a finalist for Mental Health Social Worker of the Year at the Social Worker of the Year Awards 2022

Michael Muggridge has been shortlisted for the National Advisor award at the LGBT Health Awards 2022 for his work on the Health Inequalities Task Group

Red Kite View (our young people’s inpatient unit) has won numerous estates awards, and is now a finalist for the Best Collaborative Arts Project and has been shortlisted for Mental Health Innovation of the Year at the HSJ Awards 2022

The Communications Team made the shortlist for Best Use of Digital Communications and Engagement at the NHS Communicate Awards 2022 for the Red Kite View staff recruitment Campaign.


Our own Team of The Month for August goes to . . . the Trust’s Logistics Team.  

The Trust's logistics team

This deserving crew (pictured above) were nominated thanks to their determined efforts behind the scenes to make our Big Thank You Fortnight in July work so well, ensuring teams received their vouchers and Covid Stars.

And our latest Research Hero is… Emma Pearce, Speech and Language Therapist. Emma’s project explores the unmet communication needs of patients living with dementia in the Older People’s Service inpatients units and her work has already been used on wards to inform practice.

Final word

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog. If you’ve read this far then thank you for sticking with me – it’s a packed edition but I think that just reflects how busy it is for everyone in the Trust.

Thank you to our staff for all you do, day in and day out, for persevering when the times are tough and taking opportunities to improve what we do when the chance arises. The next few months won’t be any less busy and I will continue to get out and about as much as possible, along with Board colleagues to be able to show our personal appreciation.

Find out more about Sara on our website. Follow her on Twitter at @munro_sara