Hello everyone, welcome to my latest blog. Hasn’t the sunshine been lovely? It’s great that we are enjoying a spell of better weather, but please, be careful and enjoy it safely.

So, the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) was legally established on 1 July. This is a significant milestone and I offer my congratulations to everyone involved for a smooth transition from CCGs and designated status to this new statutory organisation. I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with all our partners in the system for the benefit of our patients and communities.

It was good to attend the first formal Integrated Care Board (ICB) meeting and meet other board members, including non-executive directors – some of whom I hadn’t met before. A culture of really strong partnership is clearly a priority and it was good to see that in action.

You’ll know that Provider Collaboratives are a key aspect of this partnership and integration, and the next ‘colleague briefing’ takes place on Wednesday this week. Please attend if you can. The last briefing saw more around 650 staff from across the system attend and the questions they asked – together with the answers, will be available soon.

I am really pleased that LSCft has just launched a new Initial Response Service for people in East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen, that can be accessed through a new freephone number – 0800 013 0707. This means that everyone there will be able to easily access urgent or general mental health support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week via this one number. Until now, there now had been around 29 different contact numbers.

This new approach will help improve access to mental health services – particularly during evenings and weekends – across East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen, where there are over half a million residents, and is part of a wider programme of work across the health system, to transform access to mental health services for local people and their carers who have a mental health need or are experiencing a mental health crisis.  We will be launching similar services across the system over the course of this year.

We have worked with GPs, MPs, representatives from the voluntary sector, as well as other key stakeholders across the health system to develop this approach to make sure it meets the needs of patients and service users. Whether it be an immediate response, routine appointment booking or even advice on how to access additional information, people will be able to call one phone number and receive the response they need.

Health equality and inclusion are really important to me (indeed to everyone working in the system), so I’m delighted that in addition, a partnership between the Trust and SignVideo, the leading British Sign Language (BSL) Video Remote Interpreting and BSL Video Relay Service Provider in the UK, means that people from the deaf community living across East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen are able to access the Trust’s mental health services whether for urgent or general mental health care, via the support of an interpreter. 

The IRS service for Central and West Lancashire has recently been launched and has already made a big impact there. There’ll be more news on this next time.  

Our staff are our greatest asset, and I’m sure you know from reading this blog how incredibly proud I am of them. Around 20% of our workforce is administrative and clerical (A&C), and it is important that they too are recognised and appreciated for their contribution to the frontline, clinical services we deliver. I’m delighted that last week, we launched a Big Conversation (part of the Listening into Action improvement programme) to look at the career pathway and education and development opportunities for A&C staff.

This is sponsored by Associate Chief Executive, Christine Hughes, who began her own career in the NHS as a secretary. Listening to our staff is absolutely key to being a great employer, and I am truly committed to that. So, a big thank you, from me, to all our admin staff. You are essential to our services and the heart of the Trust.

Of course, it’s all very well me saying we appreciate our staff; but we must do more than that, we must show them how highly they are valued.  There are many ways of doing this, but one hugely important and popular way is through our annual ‘Time to Shine’ awards programme.  This has been a virtual event for the last two years, but this year I am determined to do something different. Watch this space to find out more, very soon, about Time to Shine 2022 and readers, get your thinking caps on. Who has shone for you?

So, that’s it for this week so until next time, have fun in the sun! And as ever, thank you.