Hello everyone! Welcome to my latest blog, and once again, there is much to tell you about.

I’m delighted that once again, I can start with some excellent news about more awards won by our Trust.

A couple of weeks ago, we had 13 finalists in the North West Health and Social Care Apprentice Awards. From those, Assistant Practitioner Apprentice Rachel Carruthers won the Rising Star award AND Apprentice of the Year. Immense congratulations to Rachel, well done! Congratulations also to Trainee Nursing Associate Apprentice Umar Zaka who was Highly Commended in the ‘Clinical Apprentice of the Year’ category and indeed all the finalists. You really have done us proud and I hope you all enjoy a long and happy career with us. 

Still on the awards theme, I am delighted to tell you we have also been shortlisted for no less than SEVEN Nursing Times Awards. This is fabulous news, so well deserved and like the other awards I have mentioned, confirmation of the ongoing improvement across the Trust. Good luck to all - my fingers are firmly crossed!

We also received the draft written report from the CQC following their recent inspection of our Psychiatry Liaison Services in March and April 2022, as part of their system wide review of emergency and urgent care.  The CQC looked at the impact of mental health liaison within an urgent emergency care centre, as well as any possible impact on patient safety. 

They inspected three domains – safe, responsive and well-led. Their report really is a most welcome read, detailing the significant improvements made in these services since they last inspected in 2019, and confirms a higher quality of care and patient experience. 

There were very many positive observations and comments throughout the report, with the CQC finding our services provide safe care; staff assess and manage risk well; patients have access to a range of services to meet their needs; and leaders have the skills, knowledge and experience to perform their roles. Importantly, they also said staff felt respected, supported and valued and the culture at the trust promoted equality and diversity, supported career progression and enabled staff to raise any concerns without fear. I am so pleased about that.

The organisational culture here at LCSft is positive and supportive and of course, leads to better services and care or our patients. I am incredibly proud of our staff and services and I’m glad the CQC have had the opportunity to see how good they are for themselves.  

There were some helpful areas for improvement, which we will use to continue on our journey to ‘Outstanding’! Thank you and well done to everyone involved in this. The inspection was not rated, as no enforcement action was given. I look forward to the CQC publishing their report in full and hope you take the opportunity to read it when they do.

I wonder if you have visited our website today? If you have, you will no doubt have noticed it is new, more dynamic, easier to navigate and just, well, better. I’d like to thank Becky Taylor-Rossall and her colleagues in the Communications Team for all their hard work on this. Please do take a look if you haven’t already, and let us know what you think and if any more improvements could be made. We’d love to hear from you. 

We have officially opened our new outdoor gym for service users in Worden, Duxbury, and Avenham wards in Chorley Hospital. Local professional boxer, Jack Caterall, attended to ‘cut the ribbon’. This was a lovely gesture and much appreciated by both staff and service users. Jack recognises the link between good physical health and exercise and better mental health. I’m delighted our patients now have access to this new facility to help boost their physical wellbeing while they are in our care. 

Chief Medical Officer Dr David Fearnley and I both spoke at the first ‘Colleague Briefing’, a Teams live event, hosted by David Flory, for staff across the patch to hear more about the Provider Collaboratives, the five provider collaborative of NHS Providers and the mental health, learning disability and autism collaborative.

Almost 650 staff from across Lancashire and South Cumbria attended this first such event – another will take place on 13th July. Like all developments connected to the new NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB (which assumed legal status on Friday 1st July), the ambition is much greater partnership working between all health and social care providers to eradicate health inequality, geographical variations in outcomes and disparity between physical and mental health.

Did you know that people with a serious mental health condition can die up to 20 years earlier than someone without, often due to poor physical health? That is not acceptable.  We both talked about the welcome opportunity offered by the collaboratives to create system-wide learning; cement new robust relationships and generally improve the patient experience. 

David referenced our new Initial Response Service which is transforming crisis care and leading to reduced GP referrals and admissions; mental health urgent assessment centres providing state of the art facilities that are significantly impacting on the privacy and dignity of our patients; and our plans to open 60 more beds to increase our capacity for in-patient care for those who need it.

Mutual aid between organisations, better partnerships and shared focus really is making a big difference. Only this week, such working proved hugely beneficial in tackling unacceptable, long waits in urgent care following a build-up in demand. I want to thank all our staff, and all our colleagues in the system for their support during this incident, which led to an effective and efficient set of solutions which were quickly implemented.

So here we are, at the beginning of another week.  Let’s hope it’s a good one!

Until next time,

Caroline