Hello everyone - hope you are all well.
I know Damian is keeping you all well informed while he's acting chief executive and it's great to read about how he's engaging with staff across the Trust. I'm glad you are all giving him your full support.
As you know, I am currently spending some of my week in Blackpool as Interim Chief Executive there, so I thought I'd check in with you and keep in touch.
I feel very privileged to be asked to carry out this role in Blackpool, and it's made easier by knowing the strength of the whole team at East Lancs, and having absolute confidence in everyone there. It does present a great opportunity to take a wider view, compare methods and challenges, and of course, share experiences and successes. All of us in the NHS have difficult (though rewarding) jobs and we can all learn so much from each other. It is interesting how different the two Trusts are, yet so similar in many ways. Of course, the one common constant is the calibre and commitment of the staff. They are what ultimately defines all organisations. As ever, I'm incredibly proud of everything we do and totally assured of the value of that for patients.
We can always do more though and the importance of collaboration and mutual respect between different organisations has been brought into focus this week.
You may have seen the media coverage following the publication this week on an independent external review of mental health services in Lancashire that was commissioned in response to the sharp increase in long waits in emergency departments. The review pulled no punches and made 27 recommendations for significant improvement. While the majority were specifically for Lancashire Care, many were addressed to all the partners in the system - including ELHT - seeking much better working relationships and joint responsibility for tackling the issues. I'm sure everybody who has ever needed any sort of mental health care or support will welcome the fact that all of the organisations involved accepted all of the recommendations and have made firm commitments to working together to achieve the required improvements. You can read more about that here.
We all know that there are huge pressures in 'the system' and we are always working as best as we can to overcome these pressures and remain effective for our patients, staff and communities. While I can see no swift end to these I do believe we are heading in the right direction with an increase in integration and closer working between commissioners and providers. This is the other aspect of my East Lancs role - leading (along with many others of you) our involvement in the Together a Healthier Future integrated partnership. If you haven’t already read The Pennine Plan - that's the joint plan for addressing the health and social care needs of our area - you can find it here.
As ever, I want to thank you all for continuing to make me very proud with all that you do. Although you may not be seeing so much of me, be assured that I am still very much involved, and very interested in what's going on.
Finally, I want to extend my warmest wishes and thanks to John Bannister who is retiring today from his role as Director of Operations for ELHT. John has been a great ambassador for the Trust and a very successful director in perhaps the most difficult and stressful of all our roles. His popularity is a direct result of his character and he has been a great friend to many in our Trust. We will all miss him. Thank you John - I hope you have a very happy retirement.
So, until next time, keep up the good work!