Dawn Hanwell's leadership blog April 2023

Hello, my name is Dawn and I’m the Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer at the Trust. I’m taking the helm of the leadership blog this month and have been putting pen to paper whilst our chief exec Sara has been taking a well-deserved break over Easter.

Dawn HanwellI hope you had a lovely Easter and had chance to spend some time with friends and family. Spring is in the air and I’m looking forward to some warmer weather!

I want to start with a huge thank you everyone at the Trust who has been keeping our show on the road over the last few months.

Last winter was a winter like no other – and we seem to be continually reinventing what difficult looks like. December and January saw the most challenging pressures across the health and care sector in living memory.

As well as winter pressures, we’ve been preparing for, coping with and recovering from the (still ongoing) industrial action.

All I can say is that we are so grateful to staff for their resilience, flexibility and ultimate commitment to providing safe, reliable and effective care to the communities we serve.

Staff survey shows favourable results despite difficult times

Our results from the 2022 staff survey were published in March. We were delighted to see a favourable improvement in staff experience with 54% of responses improving compared to 2021 results, where only 15% of questions improved.

Granted the results were taken before the onset of full-on winter pressures and industrial action. But it was great to see the work we’d done over the previous 12 months to strengthen our compassionate and inclusive culture, widen flexible working and making sure our staff feel rewarded and recognised by the Trust had a positive impact.

It’s also given us a clear indication on areas where we need to make more progress such as appraisals and career progression, incidents of violence and aggression and fundamentally ensuring we have enough staff to do the job which makes everyone else job easier and more rewarding and of course better for our service users.

Read a summary of the results and find the full report on our website.

Synergi Leeds tackling race inequality

March also saw the premier of a documentary showcasing the four-year journey of Synergi Leeds – a true partnership collaboration aimed at tackling systemic race inequality in mental health through grass roots investment, creative space events and securing senior leadership commitment.

We see such inequalities in things like over representation of ethnic groups in secure care and detentions under the Mental Health Act. We have made a long-term commitment to the collaborative with several colleagues from the Trust taking active roles, and our Deputy Director of Psychological Professions Sharon Prince is a joint lead in the programme.

There’s lots to celebrate in the city regarding the shift in mindset, awareness, and action but there is also far more to do, and the event was another call to action for long term commitment and funding to address the inequalities faced by our ethnically diverse communities in access to and outcomes from mental health services.

It was reassuring to hear from service users at this event who are part of the redesign of community mental health services this is being embedded from the outset in the community transformation programme.

Addressing racial inequalities will form part of the wider Health Inequalities strategy work being led by our Chief Operating Officer Joanna Forster Adams so we can ensure it is truly embedded and sustained.

Check out the trailer for the Synergi Leeds documentary.

Celebrating Apprenticeships

We held the first ever celebration event for colleagues completing their apprenticeships with us in March. In 4 years, 74 staff have completed an apprenticeship ranging from level 2 in care, clinical apprenticeships, data, and procurement apprenticeships through to level 7 in clinical psychology and leadership and management.

The majority still work with us and the event brought together students, managers, and family members to celebrate their achievements and recognise the valuable contribution that apprentices make to our services and service users.

We also recognised four members of staff who lived our values of integrity, simplicity and caring. The worthy winners were:

  • Manager/Mentor: Andrew McNichol, Head of People Analytics and Temporary Staffing
  • Caring: Olivia Goor, Pharmacy Technician
  • Integrity: Myer Bradley, Health Care Support Worker
  • Simplicity: Sian-Leese Hook, Health Care Support Worker

My thanks also go to the apprenticeship team who co-ordinate and support apprenticeships across the Trust.

Comings and goings

Our new Director of Nursing, Professions and Quality was announced in late March as Nichola Sanderson – our currently deputy director. We’re delighted Nichola will continue her professional nursing journey with us. Read all about it on our website.

Our Freedom to Speak Up Guardian John Verity has confirmed he will be stepping down from his role later in the summer. This role has become an integral part of our culture around safe practice and reporting concerns. The post will be advertised in May and final interviews early July.

We’ll also be on the lookout for a new Trust Board Secretary as our incumbent Cath Hill is retiring at the end of July. We’ll be advertising in late April so watch this space.

Reasons to be proud

Top teaching doc

Our Medical Education Committee has announced their inaugural Core Trainee Outstanding Teacher as . . . Dr Benjamin Rutt​. He has been described as “an excellent teacher, blending warmth with conversational style, structure, and knowledge.” ​

Warm space at Becklin café draws crowds  

The café at the Becklin Centre has, since December, been open two days per week as an official “warm space” offering tea, toast and a place to sit and meet. They’ve welcomed between 30-50 people a day with some service users using the café as a transition space back into the community​. Well done to those who’ve made this possible.

Team of the month

Our latest team of the month is the hard-working, resilient and dedicated crew at Red Kite View – our young people’s inpatient unit. Earlier this year they held their first ever ‘Red Kite Awards’ and the response was impressive. Nominations were made by 71 colleagues and the celebration event was a fantastic way to show appreciation for each other.​

The judges said the team were “a credit to the Trust for all they have done and their ongoing commitment to further development of the service offered to young people.’’​