Sara's blog for May 2019

Our Chief Executive’s monthly blog for May 2019. Featuring the Leeds Health and Care Academy, key obsessions for health in Leeds, reducing inequalities for black and minority ethnic service users, an exciting new innovation space and this month’s reasons to be proud.

Dr Sara Munro


Welcome to my monthly blog for May.

I’ve recently returned from Washington DC and I’ve still not quite caught up on being five hours behind the UK!

I was lucky enough to be asked to represent the recently-launched Leeds Health and Care Academy* at the Association of Academic Health Centers International global issues forum on 6 May. As the workforce lead for Leeds I was immensely proud to showcase the Academy, its ambition, vision and progress to date.

Since launching in April the Academy:

  • Is training extra mental health first aiders to increase support for staff
  • Has recruited 22 Academy ambassadors who are visiting local schools, colleges and its most deprived communities to promote careers in health and care
  • Is rolling out a training programme to help those in leadership roles begin to focus more on the city as a whole rather than just their own organisational needs, and
  • Has launched a city-wide induction for the 3,000 or so people who join the Leeds health and care sector every year – helping staff understand they are part of ‘one workforce’.

I presented alongside Jenny Lewis, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development at Leeds Teaching Hospitals. Those in attendance were very interested in this unique partnership and questioned us on our offer to volunteers, the involvement of social care and growing our own talent through community engagement.


‘Key obsessions’ for health in Leeds

We’re currently reviewing Leeds’ health and care plan. Building on the success of the city’s Children’s Strategy, we’ve agreed to focus on ‘key obsessions’.

What do we mean by this? Well I suppose it means a set of long term aims that sound good on paper and in soundbites but actually are really hard to deliver unless you have proper commitment from a range of partners, resource and persistence.

They are still being developed but initial drafts can be summarised as follows:

Obsession One: Prevention of ill health and reducing inequalities

This includes risky behaviours around smoking, alcohol, diet, inactivity and stress. Our target populations are proposed as the 10% most deprived communities, pregnant women and people with mental health problems.

Obsession Two: people live well in their own homes and communities

This would include how we better support people of all ages who are acutely unwell or need ongoing support to stay in their own homes. This could be due to their mental health or people with learning disabilities.

Obsession Three: Leeds will be a mentally healthy city for all ages

The aim here is to improve mental health outcomes for people living in communities with the poorest mental health.


A new mental health strategy for Leeds

This work on the Leeds Plan feeds into the development of a new mental health strategy for the city. Whilst this strategy will be broader than the services we provide, it is important we play our part in its development so we can positively influence priorities for people with complex mental health needs.

So far, these include things like:

  • Making the right information available at the right time
  • Mental health care for pregnant women before and after birth
  • Improving accommodation support for people with serious mental health problems


Inequalities in black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities

Picture of Nuwan Dissanayaka

Tackling inequalities is a key theme of the developing health strategies for Leeds. At our Trust Board meeting in February we received an eye-opening presentation from Dr Nuwan Dissanayaka (pictured)  on the experiences of BAME people receiving mental health services and the recent review of the Mental Health Act. There is such a big difference in someone’s experiences of, and access to, mental health care dependent on their race and we need to understand this more for our own service users and communities.

One of the areas of focus in the wider Leeds Mental Health Strategy relates to the experiences of BAME people in accessing and receiving mental health care.  This also includes addressing the differences in crisis support and rates of detention under the Mental Health Act.

To kick start work on this, a partnership has been created between ourselves, public health, third sector collaborative Forum Central and the Synergi Collaborative.


Let’s get digital – an exciting new workspace

Co Space North meeting roomAn exciting new facility has opened in Leeds to enable a range of experts and residents to come together, share knowledge and come up with new and exciting ways to improve health care.

Co>Space North, which has opened at the Platform building near Leeds train station, will “facilitate collaboration between innovators, entrepreneurs, health and care practitioners, policy makers, academics and Leeds residents, along with local, regional and national NHS bodies” . . . like us!

It describes itself as a “unique virtual community” and will “focus on developing new digital tools and services, to enable innovation in health and care for the benefit of patients and citizens.”

The Trust has a stake in this development through our support for the Leeds-based digital innovation agency mHabitat. They launched Co>Space in conjunction with Leeds City Council and the various NHS organisations in the city. I was delighted to be invited to the launch and support this innovative working environment.


Recruiting tomorrow’s talent

I’d like to say a big thank you to staff who took time out to represent us at the Leeds Health and Care careers and recruitment event on 15 May.

Our staff spoke to around 50 people on the day about a career in NHS mental health care. Attracting the new generation of talent into the NHS is so important, especially when you consider Leeds will need up to 65,000 health workers (the population of a small town) by 2035 to meet the growing demands.


Reasons to be proud

The ABC of Autism

The ABC of Autism book front cover imageThe Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service has made a huge contribution to the ABC of Autism, a book which provides clinicians and medical students with a succinct, evidence-based overview of the symptoms, evaluation, treatment, and management of autism in both daily practice and for ongoing patient support plans.

Described as “compact yet comprehensive” the accessible and informative guide allows primary healthcare professionals to quickly reference the essential information required for appropriate patient care and is one of the many ways our staff use their expertise to bring about wider benefits for colleagues and so ultimately service users and citizens.


The drugs do work! Accreditation for pharmacist

One of our pharmacists, Michael Dixon, was recently re-accredited as a member of the College of Mental Health Pharmacy following an assessment of his clinical practice.

The College of Mental Health Pharmacy promotes the role of pharmacists as experts in medication use within the field of psychiatry.  Assessors said Michael demonstrated a very high standard of competence within psychiatric therapeutics and was therefore granted continued membership of the College. So it is clearly our privilege to have Michael working in our organisation.


Posh frocks ready for Queen’s Garden Party

This year we encouraged a number of staff to apply to attend the Queen’s garden party in recognition of the outstanding commitment and work they do in the Trust.  So it’s great that two of our staff will be going this summer. They are Mary Dresser who works at the Becklin Centre and Julie Foster, a community mental health nurse.


Learning Disability support service shortlisted for award

Our Easy on the I Service, which produces health information for people with learning disabilities, has been shortlisted for the national Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards 2019.

These awards celebrate excellence in the support for people with learning disabilities and aim to pay tribute to those individuals or organisations that excel in providing quality care.  It’s been an exciting year so far for Easy on the I who’ve recently featured in a national news programme.


Watch out for #20daysofawesome

20 days of awesome pictureColleagues across the Trust have been working really hard to pull loads of information together for our forthcoming CQC inspection. We expect the inspectors to be on site in July.

Included in the range of information they wanted to see was a section on ‘innovation’. We felt all this great work was too good to keep to ourselves so we are sharing a number of examples through Twitter using the hashtag #20daysofawesome. I can’t wait to find out more about the amazing work our staff do day in day out. The campaign started on 20 May so please like, share and retweet!


* The Leeds Health and Care Academy is a Leeds Academic Health Partnership Project. 

Find out more about Dr Sara Munro