Sara Munro's leadership blog February 2023

Our Chief Exec Dr Sara Munro’s leadership blog for February 2023.

Dr Sara Munro, chief executive of the TrustHello,

This is my first blog of 2023 but the theme is very similar to my last of 2022 – health and care services are under significant pressure and everyone is working hard to deal with this and support one another.

The Christmas and New Year period has been incredibly difficult across all organisations in Leeds and the wider region. With a combination of staff sickness, viruses including flu and Covid which have closed some of our wards, massive seasonal demand and the ongoing industrial action, I am grateful for how everyone has pulled together over these past few weeks.

At the moment there is no end in sight to the ongoing industrial action. Whilst our own Trust is not directly involved it does of course have an impact on us when partner organisations are dealing with strikes by different professional groups. Our planning and preparations have helped to keep our own service users and staff safe but I do hope the government does enter into negotiations as no one wants to be in the position of taking strike action.

Pulling together for our community mental health services

Our community mental health services have a long history of delivering excellent care to patients. They are a key interface between many other parts of our Trust and the health system in Leeds, and the bedrock of core mental health care to our communities – supporting around 3,000 people at any one time.

The service is under significant pressure and has been for some time. Escalating demands and a chronic shortage of staff has created a perfect storm which is having a major impact on our ability to consistently provide patient care to the high standards we aspire to.

This protracted pressure is putting a significant strain on the wellbeing of our staff. In response to this, we are looking to take bold actions to improve the situation in the short to medium term.

The longer-term solution is to transform the service entirely. A programme of work is already well underway to do this, which you can read about on the MindWell website.

But we have to take action now and not wait for benefits of transformation later down the line.

We are grateful for the continued commitment of our community mental health staff who have worked tirelessly and creatively to find solutions and it is testament to their resourcefulness and resilience that they have been able to sustain services. Despite these challenges they are making a difference every day and the work is incredibly rewarding. However, this imbalance between increasing workload and staffing limitations has made their work unsustainable and the impact for both patients and staff is becoming increasingly untenable.

Therefore, we cannot continue as we are and must find a new approach to move forward. So we are asking our wider staff groups and our partners to pull together for community mental health services. If we do this right, we are confident we can resolve the challenges currently faced by the service. In our most recent meeting it was reassuring to see plans come together which will help us provide more stability in the coming weeks.


Getting out and about

I’ve recently enjoyed a visit to our Community Learning Disability Team (CLDT) based at St Mary’s House in Potternewton. It was great to see the joined-up service they provide to people in third sector day care services. There was some great team work on display and I was impressed with their focus on staff wellbeing.

I also visited the multi-disciplinary team at the Forward Leeds addiction service. They too showed great examples of partnership working enabling them to support vulnerable people and their families.


Comings and goings

Cathy Woffendin Director of Nursing, Professions and Quality

Our Executive Director of Nursing, Professions and Quality, Cathy Woffendin (pictured), will be taking early retirement at the end of May 2023. Cathy has provided outstanding professional and executive leadership in the Trust and we’ll be giving her a proper send off in due course. We’ll be out to advert for this important role very soon.

Many readers will remember our Deputy Chief Operating Officer (COO) Andy Weir who in January 2022 took a year’s secondment as Director of Mental Health for the health and care system in Jersey. Andy has decided to make the move permanent, so we wish him all the best for the future. We are already out to advert to appoint a Deputy COO.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals has announced that their Medical Director Professor Phil Wood will be taking over as Chief Executive on 1 February following the departure of Julian Hartley.

Cath Roff is retiring as Leeds’ Director of Adult Social Services (DASS) in February. Cath will return part time to lead a transformation programme in intermediate care provision for the city. Caroline Baria will act up as the DASS for six months until a full recruitment process is put in place to appoint a permanent DASS.

And at LYPFT we welcomed Merran McRae as she chaired her first public Trust Board meeting as Chair on Thursday 26 January.

National Planning Guidance – the headlines

True to recent form, NHS England published their planning guidance for 2023/24 on Christmas Eve. I’ve set out the key requirements for mental health, learning disabilities and autism services below.

Mental Health

  • Improve access to mental health support for children and young people in line with the national ambition for 345,000 additional individuals aged 0-25 accessing NHS funded services (compared to 2019).
  • Increase the number of adults and older adults accessing NHS Talking Therapies (formally known as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies or IAPT).
  • Achieve a 5% year on year increase in the number of adults and older adults supported by community mental health services.
  • Work towards eliminating inappropriate adult acute out of area placements.
  • Recover the dementia diagnosis rate to 66.7%.

People with a learning disability and autistic people

  • Ensure 75% of people aged over 14 on GP learning disability registers receive an annual health check and health action plan by March 2024.
  • Reduce reliance on inpatient care, while improving the quality of inpatient care, for people with a learning disability and/or autism by March 2024

Also of note in the mental health section of the planning guidance there are commitments to:

  • Continue to achieve the Mental Health Investment Standard by increasing expenditure on mental health services by more than allocations growth.
  • Develop a workforce plan that supports delivery of the system’s mental health delivery ambition, working closely with system partners including provider collaboratives and the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sectors.
  • Improve mental health data to evidence the expansion and transformation of mental health services, and the impact on population health, with a focus on activity, timeliness of access, equality, quality and outcomes data.


Holding us to account – last chance to become a governor

We’re holding an election to our Council of Governors and we’re looking for service users, carers, members of staff and the general public who are interested in making a difference.

Governors do an important job for the Trust. They represent the interests of those who elect them, meeting at least four times a year with the Board for discussions, to ask questions, raise concerns and comment on the performance of the Trust.

Governors can take part in service visits to any part of the Trust and provide feedback to the Council on what they have learned. There are also events within the Trust, in Leeds and across the wider West Yorkshire health care system for governors to join.

If you know of anybody who may be interested in becoming a Governor for the Trust, you’ve got until 7 February to put yourselves forward. Find out more on our website.

Reasons to be proud

Please take a few minutes to watch this amazing video about a two-year music project run by our Arts & Minds team and local arts agency Cloth Cat which gave musical opportunities to highly vulnerable in the care of our Assertive Outreach Team.​ I’ll let the video do the talking . . .

Dietitians Georgina Crowther and Jemma Escreet had an article published in Dietetics Today which is great recognition for their hard work in new roles supporting our Community Mental Health Teams. ​

Dr Prakash Hosalli has been named Trainer of the Year 2022 by Yorkshire and Humber School of Psychiatry. ​ Dr Hosalli was described as “a fantastic trainer” who always gives the trainees a brilliant experience.

The People Experience Team, who brought you the festive coffee van experience, have been featured in a national case study by NHS Employers. Feedback from staff who enjoyed the van’s festive fayre has been amazing. So, watch out for the return of the van!

And finally, our latest research heroes are Dr Conor Davidson, Dr Alwyn Kam and Dr Keri Lodge from the Leeds Autistic Diagnostic Service (LADS) who are leading the STRATA Study. It aims to test whether the medication Sertraline is an effective treatment for anxiety in autistic adults.​ Read more on our website.