Dr Sara Munro's CEO Leadership Blog for February 2024

Our Chief Executive, Dr Sara Munro, posts her first leadership blog of 2024.

Dr Sara Munro, chief executive of the TrustAs this is my first blog of 2024, I’ll start by wishing you all a belated Happy New Year and offering a huge thanks to all those teams who have worked so hard to keep services running through the most challenging period; working unsocial hours and over bank holidays when we’ve had severe pressure on our acute services for adults and older adults.

During my eight years as Chief Exec at LYPFT, this winter has been the most challenging in terms of capacity and demand on our acute services. This has been at the same time as two periods of industrial action by doctors, and thanks to the planning and leadership of colleagues this unprecedented level of action was well managed with minimal disruption. We await further updates nationally on the progress of negotiations and whether further industrial action is likely.

Despite the challenges over the past few weeks, our teams, wards and services found time to bring festive cheer to patients and colleagues through parties and events, including some Christmas carol singing across our sites led by our Chaplain Laurence McGonnell. And of course, the ever-cheerful Mr Coffee visited our main sites in Leeds and York offering free drinks and snacks – giving staff a good opportunity to down tools for a little while to socialise.

In December I visited our Forensic Mental Health services at the Newsam Centre in Leeds which included the forensic outreach team and the three inpatient wards, alongside their new Head of Operations Josef Faulkner. It was a great opportunity to hear about the future plans as well as get honest feedback on how we need to increase visibility on the service’s action plan.


Service user involvement

Our first public Trust Board meeting of 2024 took place on Thursday 25 January, and we were treated to a brilliant presentation from Rachael Darling and Zoe Kendall, Advanced Lived Experience Knowledge and Understanding Framework (KUF) Development Leads from our Emerge Leeds Service.

Emerge Leeds was previously known as the Leeds Personality Disorder Managed Clinical Network, but rebranded following extensive engagement with service users. And its that culture of involvement that Rachael and Zoe spoke to us about.

If you’re interested in what good service user involvement looks like, I’d recommend reading their full presentation.

Board colleagues were keen to offer support on raising their profile and how this model is adopted across the NHS.

As an aside, we’ve recently published a fantastic story about how Emerge Leeds’ work with the local Donkey Sanctury has helped turn around the life of a young man in their care. It made it into Horse and Hound magazine which I think is a first for us!

Kaiden stood behind a donkey in a field.

Planning and priorities  

Whilst we’ve still not received the national planning guidance for the next financial year, the Trust has already started planning for our Trust priorities for 2024/25. In January our senior leadership team looked at this in detail, using our existing strategic plans whilst considering operational and financial pressures, and our capacity to deliver on anything new. Further work will take place to refine these, assess the impact and resource requirements with a new draft plan coming out in February.

The financial challenges for the next year are significant – and this will have a huge impact on our planning. Both as a Trust and a Leeds based system, we are aligning our assumptions and commitments to forecasting a financial balance.

Transforming community mental health services in Leeds

The aforementioned Emerge Leeds service is itself an innovation that came out of our Community Mental Health Transformation programme. And this is something that deserves highlighting. We’ve recently overcome some significant sticking points, so we’ll be able to launch our early adopter hubs across Leeds in March 2024.

The programme aims to put community mental health services closer to people who need them, joining up effectively with other services, and removing barriers to accessing care. Find out more and keep up to date on the MindWell Leeds website.

Leeds acute care sustained pressure

We know if we can improve community services, that in turn will improve things for our inpatient teams. And this is so very much needed – as we continue to see sustained pressure for inpatient acute admissions, with far too many people currently in out of area placements. We’re also seeing consistent levels of delayed transfers of care which is impacting on our ability to respond to ever increasing demand.

We’ve been working with senior colleagues in Leeds City Council, the Integrated Care Board and Housing Providers to support access to suitable discharge options including housing availability and to address some of the factors that result in delays.

Preventing violence and abuse

Our staff can face abusive behaviour from service users and carers. This can be viewed as a bit of an occupational hazard, but it should not be tolerated.

The Board received a very welcome plan on violence prevention and reduction. It’s something we have to provide more focus on if we are to live up to the commitment in our People Plan that “staff should never be fearful or apprehensive about coming to work”.

The Plan reinforces our commitment to the health and wellbeing of colleagues, as well as recognising the negative impact that poor health and wellbeing can have on service user care. Three headline actions include:

  • Encouraging reporting of incidents through a consistent process so staff feel that reporting is worthwhile,
  • Reducing the number, severity and occasions of incidents of violence and incidents of hate in the Trust, and
  • Eradicating any unwanted, inappropriate and/or harmful sexual behaviours.

You can read the full plan in our Trust Board papers.

Reasons to be proud

The NHS can feel a bit doom and gloom if you only read the news. But, there are always fantastic achievements to highlight if you look for them. As usual, too many to include here but here’s a few from the last two months. . .

We’ve achieved White Ribbon accreditation – working with the UK’s leading charity engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls. This is a commitment made by workplaces to work towards change in their staff culture, systems and communities.

Congratulations to Dr Rose Laud who’s received the LYPFT Core Trainee Teacher Award for August 2023-January 2024. And one of our highly experienced doctors George Crowther published the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ article of the month in the British Journal of Psychiatry in December, entitled: Should all psychiatrists have ECG interpretation training?

Our latest Team of the Month has been announced as The Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service (LADS). They’ve been working incredibly hard to reduce the waiting times for service users, reducing the assessment time from 18 months to 12 months, which is a massive achievement in just a couple of months.

And our latest research hero has been named as Dr Zumer Jawaid, Consultant Psychiatrist in Older People’s Services. Dr Jawaid is the Principal Investigator on the QMIN-MC study, recruiting service users undergoing a brain MRI as part of their diagnosis in memory services. He’s facilitated service-wide involvement, encouraging research engagement across the Younger People with Dementia team.

Well done to all those mentioned here, and apologies for those I’ve not managed to give a shout out to. If you have a great story of achievement, please let me or our Communications Team know about it so we can celebrate it publicly.

Find out more about Dr Sara Munro on our website