Sara Munro's leadership blog for March 2022

Our Chief Exec, Dr Sara Munro’s leadership blog for March 2022. This month she talks about the negative impact of the mandatory staff vaccination legislation, the war in Ukraine and how we’re helping, the rising cost of living, our new People Plan, the future of care services and her famous ‘reasons to be proud’.

Dr Sara MunroHello

Welcome to Spring. I hope you all survived the recent storms okay and are now enjoying some more Spring-like weather.

I have to start with a reminder that sadly Covid is still with us. It’s not making many headlines right now due to the awfully distressing scenes of war in Ukraine (more on that below). Restrictions are relaxing but community transmission is still high and rising, and we’ve had outbreaks within our inpatient services.  You don’t need me to tell you the challenges that brings in running our services but as ever – thanks to team work and high IPC compliance the outbreaks have been well contained.

The requirements we have to follow continue to be different to those of the general public though getting vaccinated, testing and taking sensible precautions are still necessary for all of us “living with Covid”, at least for now!

The Government’s Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment (VCOD) legislation has now been formally revoked. Since legislation was paused in late January, we’ve been engaging with relevant staff and their managers on how all this has felt from their point of view.  Thank you to those of you that have joined the forums to share your experiences.  In short, VCOD has left some staff feeling angry and victimised by it all which is the worst place we wanted to be with this. We’re listening to them about what we, as their employer, could have done differently in making sense of a national policy we were until recently legally mandated to carry out.

War in Ukraine

There is nothing new I can say that hasn’t already been said about the situation in Ukraine. Everyone I know is distressed by this, including some Russian people I’ve met living in this country who are able to access truthful accounts of the invasion.

In line with our values, our natural reaction is that we want to help. We’ve shared information with staff on how they can do this.

The best thing we can do is to seek out the established organisations and charities who are already fully engaged on the ground making sure aid and supplies reach the right people.  We are also linking in with partners in the city to further understand the recent government policy on sponsoring Ukrainian families and at the heart of this wanting to ensure very vulnerable people are safeguarded and get the best possible support.


Cost of Living

The genuine rise on the cost of living is a worry for everyone and especially those with the lowest incomes in our communities. We have been asked by colleagues about fuel costs in particular and the direct impact this has on our staff being able to do their jobs. We are not alone in this but are very worried about the impact on our workforce.

All organisations have been asked to await further guidance as unions, the Department for Health and Social Care and the government are in discussions about what can be done.  In the meantime we are looking at ways in which we can support staff and ensure everyone is aware what resources and employee benefits are available to help reduce household outgoings now, and for those that need it to get access to financial guidance and advice. We will also be asking managers to encourage staff who might be struggling financially to discuss this in a safe space as we know there is a real stigma attached to openly discussing financial problems.

There will be further info coming out about this soon.


Valuing our people – the LYPFT People Plan

Thank you to everyone who joined the official launch of our LYPFT People Plan on 14 March.  We are now rolling it out widely to teams and services in time for when our staff survey results are published. This is timely as our People Plan speaks to a lot of the issues that staff told us were important to them, both through the survey and through others means too.

One of those key priorities is making sure we have dedicated spaces for staff to take a break and get some down time whilst on shift. I’m delighted to see we’ve opened our new staff wellbeing area at The Mount (pictured below). There will also be new multi faith and wellbeing areas opening in our Becklin and Newsam centres soon.

Staff wellbeing room at The Mount


The future of care services

Our clinical services continue to work extremely hard to deliver safe and effective care during these ongoing difficult times. We’ve been through a tough period of high staff unavailability which thankfully is now improving following the February half term period.

Our Community Teams continue to be under significant pressure as they deal with a rise in demand coupled with staff shortages.  We heard from Josef Faulkner, our Head of Operations for Community Mental Health Services, on the work that is underway to alleviate the current pressures which is impressive but of course there is no quick fix.

I am incredibly grateful for the flexibility and creativity the team is showing to deal with the current situation and minimise the impact on people accessing the service.  Similarly our Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autistic Diagnostic Services have seen an unprecedented rise in demand and it is challenging prioritising who gets seen when in these circumstances.

Care services are currently developing plans for future care delivery as they transition out of their prolonged pandemic crisis modes. These will look at:

  • The short to medium term operational plan and model over the next two years, and
  • The longer-term future of the clinical services from a strategic and planning perspective.

We’ll be considering these plans at Trust Board and submitting them to our regulators in the next few weeks.


Reasons to be proud

I always enjoy unveiling our team of the month awards. I get to do this on my monthly All Staff Zoom calls and for March I can reveal that we have two very worthy winners.

  1. The York Forensic Mental Health Service’s Bluebell Ward – for their “professional attitude to work whilst regularly dealing with complex and challenging patients.” The judges felt the team had been “incredible in such tough and challenging times – an example of such caring professionalism for us all.’’
  2. The Inpatient Senior Leadership Team at The Mount. They have “worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic under great adversity both personally and professionally”. They have witnessed several Covid outbreaks, unfortunately with the loss of several service users. Yet the team has stepped up time and time again to ensure patients are kept safe.

Please keep your nominations for team of the month coming and if there is anything you want me to cover in my next blog please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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