Sara's Leadership Blog for November 2022

Our chief exec Dr Sara Munro’s leadership blog for November 2022.

Dr Sara Munro, chief executive of the TrustHello,

I have to acknowledge how tough things are out there in health and care. We’ve got huge pressures due to a mixture of service user demand and staff shortages, the impacts of winter and the cost of living are now really starting to kick in, and we’ve got NHS union members going out on strike.

What we do have are over 3,000 dedicated and hardworking staff and volunteers providing great care, keeping service users safe, and being incredibly flexible as we react and respond to new challenges which seem to emerge on a daily basis.

Here’s a brief public service announcement. Covid is not over! Its now just one of many threats we face but it’s still a very real problem for us. So, if you’re reading this and you’ve not had your winter vaccines yet, please get them as soon as you can. You’ll be helping the NHS and social care get through winter.

Walking the floor 

Despite the challenges of winter illness outbreaks, I have managed to get out to visit a few of our front line teams.

I was humbled on a visit to Ward 1 at The Mount which is a specialist dementia unit. I met the clinical team and some of the patients and was bowled over by how the team adapts to constant pressure and increasing demands. They are often asked to support other wards and I want to acknowledge the impact of this as well as

express my gratitude. We know this isn’t sustainable and we’ve made some short term changes to bed numbers at The Mount to help relieve a bit of pressure.

I also dropped into the Perinatal Service who’ve returned to The Mount. It was great to see the environmental improvements our estates colleagues had made before they moved back in.

Our substance misuse service Forward Leeds are currently riding high after recently being awarded an outstanding rating by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). I was able to spend time with the specialist midwives, the Hospital Inreach Team and the Street Outreach Team. The passion and commitment of these colleagues in making a difference to some of the most vulnerable people in Leeds is tremendous. An example of partnership working at its finest.

Speaking up to raise concerns

I want to pay a special tribute to all those staff who are brave enough to come forward to raise concerns about situations or practice within the Trust they are uncomfortable with.

At LYPFT we saw a spike of concerns raised after the BBC Panorama and Channel 4 Dispatches programmes, which featured undercover reporting from two different mental health hospitals, were first broadcast earlier this autumn.

John VerityOur Freedom to Speak Up Guardian John Verity (pictured) presented his annual report to our November Trust Board meeting on 24 November which summarised the Trust-level and national picture around concerns being raised in the NHS.


John, and his voluntary network of ambassadors, all contribute to creating a culture of speaking up where all staff feel safe and confident to raise concerns by listening, supporting and providing an impartial view to staff when speaking up and raising concerns.

It is vital we continue to promote this so that I and fellow senior leaders can take action to address issues.


Walking the walk on inclusivity

I know how committed we are to being a truly inclusive NHS Trust. But how do we walk the walk? Well, over the last two months we’ve made some big strides.

I was delighted to welcome new appointments to our staff networks.

Ian Andrews, Technical Director of the NHS North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative and Sophie Bracewell, Gender Outreach Worker Lead, have been appointed as co-chairs of the Rainbow Alliance LGBTQ+ staff network. Both Ian and Sophie will continue the fantastic work of the previous chairs, Kate Ward and Rhys Davis, who first established and grew the network.

Logistics Manager Mahesh Patel and Business Analyst Maxine Brook have been appointed as co-chairs of our Workforce Race Equality Network and we look forward to them taking forward this groups vital work.

We’ve also been shining a light on our inclusion work through two national campaigns we’ve adopted locally.

In late September we celebrated National Inclusion Week where we showcased and celebrated all that we are doing to create an inclusive place to work and receive care. Check out some amazing videos, blogs and best practice on what inclusion means to us on our website.

It’s currently Disability History Month during which we’re celebrating the lives and achievements of people living with a disability or long-term health condition. It’s part of our commitment to developing a fair, open and inclusive workplace where all colleagues have a voice and feel they belong and to continue embedding the Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES).


Reasons to be proud

I’d like to start with September’s team of the month, who are . . .

Ward 3 at The Becklin Centre!

They are more than worthy winners, having dealt with some very difficult situations and have managed them really well – pulling together as a team.

The judges said this was “an incredible example of compassionate care, providing dignity and putting the patient at the centre, despite some truly difficult situations.”

As part of our commitment to furthering and promoting research in mental health, our latest Research Hero is…

Dr Sajir Al-Sajir, Speciality Doctor within the Older People’s Service (East North East, Community Mental Health Team).

Sajir was one of the clinicians supporting the Counted Research Study which aims to understand and develop communications about treatments for dementia that support the best outcomes for those receiving diagnosis. He demonstrated great commitment and confidence in operating effectively to support recruitment and participation and maintained a positive attitude at every stage.

And in big industry award news . . . our Young Peoples’ inpatient service at Red Kite View was highly commended in the Mental Health Innovation of the Year category at this year’s Health Service Journal Awards on 17 November 2022. The HSJ Awards represent the best of the best across the health service, and this fully deserves a mention in reasons to be proud.

Goodbye Sue, Hello Merran

And finally, I want to mention a change at the top.

In November we wished our outgoing Trust Chair Dr Sue Proctor farewell as she stepped down at the end of her six year term. Sue has helped us deliver real and sustainable change across the Trust and has also been a source of great support to me personally and professionally through some of the toughest times the NHS has ever experienced.

Sue blogged with her reflections of the past six years on our website which takes some inspiration from a punk rock legend.

Following in Sue’s footsteps will be Merran McRae who has been appointed as our new Chair. Merran is well known to us having been a non-executive director for the past 12 months. She brings a wealth of experience and commitment to partnership working. I am delighted with the decision by the governors and look forward to working with Merran when she takes up the post in the New Year.