Hello everyone and welcome to my latest blog! I am pleased to tell you about some really good developments from last week.

Firstly, I can now confirm that I have been appointed as a member of the newly established Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB). Like all new ICB Board members, I had to complete an application and interview process for this place on the Board to represent the interests of mental health care service users as well as providers. 

I think it is essential that we are represented on the ICB and I am proud to be that representative. I hope that my appointment sends out a strong, positive and reassuring message to all our stakeholders, confirming parity of esteem with physical health and ensuring that mental health is not overlooked as the whole system continues to recover from Covid. As I have said many times before, the best and only way forward for us all, is to work in partnership on behalf of the population of Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Last week, all of the NHS Chairs and Chief Executives got together face to face for a Provider Collaborative development day. It was so nice to be in a room together as a group and properly see each other for the first time, helping to cement these important relationships. I believe the meeting was a great success. The Provider Collaborative, which is chaired by David Flory and led by Kevin McGee of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, and the Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism Collaborative (which is led by LSCft) have ambitious plans and I am confident that with all local NHS providers working jointly towards shared objectives, we can reduce variation, avoid duplication, increase value for money and improve services for everyone.

It is important to say though, such collaboration is not new. We have been working together well throughout Covid, and with local authority and VCFSE partners too. This really helps us to understand and influence the wider determinants of health and enables a much more rounded approach to what we do. Local authorities especially, were pivotal in the success of our recent ‘Break the Cycle’ initiative which was a week-long focus on bed flow in the run up to the last Bank Holiday. The approach led to an increase in the number of timely, clinically appropriate discharges; a reduction in the number of breaches; and better accessibility of and engagement, with senior leadership in all partners. There was also some important learning for us to take forward including beginning discharge planning for complex patients immediately on admission; improving discharge over weekends; and better communication and information sharing between partners.

Some of our sites will be affected by industrial action this coming week as staff from facilities provider OCS have confirmed strike action. We have been assured that business continuity plans are in place so our services, staff and service users will not be impacted by this action. Nevertheless, we will be supporting our staff who may have to cross picket lines to get to work recognising that this can be difficult. We also have a robust communications plan in place to ensure staff and stakeholders are kept informed of developments.

Finally, following the fantastic news that we have been shortlisted in eight categories of the HSJ Patient Safety Awards, I can also now confirm that on Friday last week, we won a North West Coast Research and Innovation Award! With our partners in Health Education England and the University of Central Lancashire, we won the Ruth Young Award for Research Implementation for ‘Collaborating with General Practice and community settings to implement findings about effective mental health prevention and promotion interventions'.

Fantastic news and proof – if it were needed - that working with partners and collaborating is good for patients, for providers and for our population.

Congratulations and well done to everyone involved!

Until next time…

Caroline