Sara's Leadership Blog for May 2022

Our Chief Exec Dr Sara Munro reflects on her visits to care services over the last two months in May’s leadership blog. This includes some honest feedback about redeployment, but also the great sense of pride from teams (both clinical and support services) who’ve come together to support each other. There’s also a bumper edition of reasons to be proud, including our latest Team of the Month. Find out if you get a mention on our website.

Dr Sara Munro


Welcome to my leadership blog for May 2022. Apologies I didn’t manage to get one out for April as I had a couple of weeks leave over Easter.  Hopefully, this bumper edition will make up for it. There are a lot of reasons to be proud this month which I’ve shared at the end so make sure you read on!

Getting back into services

Throughout March and April I’ve finally been able to get out and about into our care services to meet staff and service users. I’ve felt too detached for too long so this was something I’ve been itching to do.

So far I’ve been to our adult acute wards, psychiatric care intensive service (PICU), forensic wards at Clifton House in York, our children and young people’s services in Leeds and York, our veterans’ mental health teams, and our mother and baby unit at Parkside Lodge.

What I’ve taken away is that staff are tired and weary after what has been a tough couple of years, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Those who’ve been on periods of deployment have now returned to their home teams, and it was great to see these teams making time to reconnect.  The veterans team already had time out planned for the whole team to come together and they made me feel like one of them with their comradery.

Redeployment has not been popular in any of our teams, and I have heard that loud and clear. It was always a last resort measure for us to keep services safe, but I understand people’s experiences of redeployment has not always felt good.  We have much to learn as an organisation from this and our service reset, and recovery planning is an opportunity to do all we can to prevent having to resort to this again.

However, I also heard from those teams which were reliant on staff being redeployed to help them and they are incredibly grateful for the support and sacrifices their colleagues made to help get through some of the most difficult times any of us has experienced in the NHS.  So I want to express my own personal gratitude as we could not have kept some of our services open without the flexibility and dedication of our people. We thank you.

One thing I’ve come away with is that staff are very proud of how they have worked together, supported one another and got through some of the most challenges of times over the past two years. You have shared openly with me some of the ups and downs of the past two years which has been humbling and inspiring in equal measure.

And let’s not forget our support services colleagues. I was heartened to receive some very positive feedback from the clinical teams I have met with about the support they’d been getting from the hundreds of staff who rarely get the spotlight such as those in IT, human resources, estates, logistics – all working together and doing a great job putting solutions in place quickly.  So many times, having to move at pace with no set plan, taking risks and adapting over and over again.  Our hashtag #lypfttogether has never been more pertinent.

Please do keep sharing those stories with one another. If we can come through the past two years with a keenness to reconnect and a desire to work together more than ever then we can be confident that we will deal with the challenges over the next couple of years.

Taking the time to acknowledge and show our appreciation is something the Trust Board is keen to do over the coming months as board members also restart face to face service visits.

One such way we’ll be showing our appreciation is through The Big Thank You Fortnight – two weeks of presentations of appreciation in July including very special keep sakes for every current member of staff who’s worked through the last two years. The fortnight will culminate in The Big Thank You Bash – a night of fun and enjoyment at The Royal Armouries in Leeds. Details to follow shortly.

I mentioned light at the end of the tunnel. That is to say covid rates are coming down – at the time of writing we have no inpatients with covid which is all down to the hard work and commitment to infection control standards.  The restrictions in health and care settings are slowly starting to ease. We’re implementing plans to relax some of our infection control and distancing guidance across the Trust but only where it is safe to do so without risking big increases in covid outbreaks for staff and service users.

Covid has not gone away. At LYPFT we’ve taken a cautious approach driven by the data and evidence we have, and I believe it has paid off as our patient and staff positivity rates are well below those in other trusts who’ve chosen to relax things quicker.


Reset and recovery – services are planning ahead

Our care services have been planning ahead for the next 12 – 18 months. This is hard as some services are still in business continuity measures, with staff shortages, waiting lists and large backlogs of work.

I understand this is causing anxiety, particularly around the waiting lists. We have to be open and honest that this is a long-term issue, as it is in acute elective care. We cannot simply hire more staff, as those extra staff are not out there. Therefore it will take a number of years before we are operating with similar access times. In the meantime our Informatics colleagues are going through the waiting lists meticulously to see if there is something else we can offer across the health and care system for them.

Our operational and financial plans have now been submitted to the West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board.  We have used this process to identify each of our services year-end position and the impact of pandemic, enabling services to set short, medium and long-term priorities.

To help communicate this work, we will be producing a clear narrative and a set of plans on a page for each service area. This will hopefully explain what our service users, carers and stakeholders can expect from us over the next 1 – 2 years.

Could you be one of our new governors?

We’ve started our latest round of elections for the Council of Governors. There are two seats available for service user and carer governors, five seats available for public governors and one seat available for a non-clinical staff governor.

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

Being a governor gives a great opportunity for anyone who cares about our services to learn about how an NHS Foundation Trust runs and contribute to making a difference. If this sounds like you, please get in touch. For an informal chat about the roles, you can contact my colleague Kerry McMann at

Find out more about being a governor on our website.


Reasons to be proud

It’s a bumper edition of reasons to be proud this month.


Hannah shortlisted for Student Nurse of the Year

Well done to Hannah Shephard, who’s been shortlisted for Student Nurse of the Year for Clinical Research at the Student Nursing Times Awards.

Hannah has worked alongside colleagues in the Research Team to put together a programme of activities that students can participant in and has expanded her own knowledge of research.



Verity swims for Britain

A massive congratulations to Verity Joyce, Practice Development Practitioner with our Veterans’ Mental Health Service (part of NHS Op Courage), who has been awarded the Special Recognition Award by the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation for her achievement in becoming the first deaf women to swim the channel.

Verity is an active fundraiser and role model – sharing her own experiences and career pathway to inspire others. She’s very much in demand with media interviews and has used the platforms to raise awareness of Op Courage.

Find out more about Verity’s incredible swim story shared for Deaf Awareness Week 2022 in this short video:


Dr Max’s University Chair role

Dr Max Henderson

Congratulations to Dr Max Henderson, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist and Clinical Lead for Research & Development, who has been appointed Chair of Psychiatry with the University of Leeds.

This is a joint appointment with the Trust and will be important in our ongoing ambitions to further develop our research activity and relationship with the University.





Vote for our Gender Outreach Workers in national awards

National diversity awards nomination image

Our Gender Identity Service needs your vote in the National Diversity Awards!

They’ve been nominated for a Community Organisation Award in the LGBT category. You can vote on their website.

Our Gender Outreach Workers provide advice and peer support to people on the waiting list and care pathway, as well as people thinking about referral to the service.




Susan appointed Royal College Clinical Adviser

Susan Guthrie

Congratulations to Susan Guthrie, an Advanced Practitioner Speech and Language Therapist and a CArDINAL Clinical Academic Research Fellow, who has been offered a prestigious role with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) as a Clinical Adviser.

This will include offering and developing guidance and advising on research priorities.



And our latest Team of the Month is . . . .

. . . Ward 4 (Acute Male Inpatients) at the Becklin Centre. Congratulations to the whole team. The judges said this was an “example of how good teamwork can support flexibility and adaptability during these continuing challenging times.”

Here’s what their nominator said about them:

“Towards the back end of January and early February, Ward 4 Becklin was the only Male Acute Ward open to admissions due to Covid restrictions on other wards. Some of the admissions were challenging at times, and also due to the increased pace of new admissions and discharges, the paperwork was also challenging. The Ward Manager, nursing team, Health Support Workers, Occupational Therapists and all other staff working on the ward were fabulous and took everything in their stride. The team supported each other as well as the service users. It was challenging but also very rewarding and handled as always with professionalism.”

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