Together We're Better Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Health and Care Partnership Newsletter (November 2018)

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"Working with you to make Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent the healthiest places to live and work."

November 2018


John and Roger

Welcome to the latest newsletter from the Together We’re Better health and care partnership.

As Joint Medical Directors for the partnership, we are focussed on ensuring clinical and social care professionals are able to thoroughly play their part in this process.

Whether it be identifying and empowering future leaders or bringing a range of GPs, consultants and other health and social care professionals to the table, we are committed to making sure the voice of staff is fully heard.

You will probably be aware that NHS England will shortly be publishing its long term plan, with a likely focus on a number of key areas, such as mental health, social care integration and health inequalities. The long-term nature of this plan complements our vision and we'll soon be setting out how we intend to deliver on its priorities for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

As 2018 draws to a close, we look forward to what promises to be an extremely busy 12 months ahead. Below this introduction is an update on our journey towards engagement. Indeed “engagement” will be the go to word throughout 2019 as we talk with local communities, groups, the public and, of course, health and care staff about the work our clinically-led programmes of work have been doing.

Some of this work is featured below. We’re particularly pleased that the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit has now opened in North Staffordshire; this will help greatly with reducing out of area placements for people with specialist mental health needs.

We’re also optimistic about how the local health and care system has worked together to meet the challenges posed by what will no doubt be another busy winter. No system is perfect, but we know our staff will continue to go above and beyond in delivering care we can all be proud of.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the newsletter; see you next month.

Dr John James & Mr Roger Wade, Joint Medical Directors

Our journey towards engagement

PCBC Timeline Image

Our clinically-led work programmes have been focussed on identifying the challenges and opportunities that exist in our local health and care system.

We’ll be asking the public and workforce what they think about all this in Spring 2019 when we will be launching a major phase of public and workforce engagement.

This is the start of a thorough process to develop proposals jointly with local communities, health and care staff and local groups that will form the basis of any formal consultation.

Our discussion with local communities and stakeholders will be focussed around four key areas:

  1. Simplifying urgent and emergency care
  2. Developing a new vision for health and care in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
  3. Reviewing Community Hospitals in South Staffordshire
  4. Identifying additional priorities that will deliver clinical and financial stability.

It is important to recognise this phase of engagement is not a consultation, as no options or proposals have been developed. The feedback we receive will help in the development of our Pre-Consultation Business Case – this document takes several months to develop and outlines the clinical evidence, data analysis, financial considerations and feedback from stakeholders.

We are planning to hold a series of roadshows across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent as part of this engagement and we’ll let you know more details very soon.


Valuable visits to Community Hospitals in South Staffordshire

Community Hospital Visits

From our Independent Chair, Sir Neil McKay

This month I have been out and about with David Pearson, Vice Chair for Together We’re Better visiting Samuel Johnson and Sir Robert Peel Community Hospitals in the south of the county, following my visits to those in North Staffordshire earlier this year. These visits gave us the chance to meet and talk with local staff at both sites, as well as local stakeholders and it was a great pleasure for us to see the best practice that can be shared across the Together We’re Better partnership.

Read More >

Volunteer patient and community representatives welcomed to latest session of refreshed feedback group


As part of our preparations for engagement, we have relaunched our feedback group and were delighted to welcome volunteer patient and community representatives at the latest session. The group, formerly known as Feedback Ambassadors, met to discuss how they envisage their role will be going forwards and received an update on the progress of our programmes of work and on our engagement plans.

Members of this group come from all walks of life, including existing Patient Participation Groups, Healthwatch members, local community advocates and school governors. They are passionate about delivering real change and improving health and care services for local people. They will be a vital conduit between local groups/organisations and communities and Together We’re Better – feeding back on the views, comments and ideas they receive.

If you are interested in joining this group or finding out more then please email

Focus on our work programmes


Mental Health programme

New Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit opens and Suicide Prevention Conference held

Among the key priorities identified by Together We’re Better is to significantly reduce out of area placements in mental health. We’re delighted therefore that a new £2.4m Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) has now opened in North Staffordshire that will help to address this.

We’re also holding the first Together We’re Better Suicide Prevention Conference. The event is taking place today (Friday 30 November) at the bet365 Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent. Local health and care partner organisations have come together at the event to sign a Suicide Charter that is focussed on improving support for people who are contemplating taking their life by raising awareness of and promoting free suicide prevention training, accessible to all.

Read More >


Organisational Development and Leadership programme

Successful bid for new pilot developing health and care leaders of the future

We’re delighted to have been successful in our application to the NHS Leadership Academy to become a pilot site for the High Potential Scheme, having been selected from a large number of bids. The aim of the scheme is to identify, support and develop people in our workforce who have the potential to be our leaders of the future. More information about this story is available here.

Our work this month also included an exciting primary care event looking at locality working in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Our aim going into this event was to agree a vision for locality working in the county, looking at the objectives and characteristics of delivering services in this way.

Read More >

Physio 2

Planned Care and Cancer programme

First Contact Practitioners helping to transform services for people experiencing MSK problems

Muscle, bone and joint problems, also known as musculoskeletal (MSK) issues are the biggest cause of work absence and physical disability in the UK. Almost a third of all primary care consultations are related to MSK, while 10% of all GP referrals are for patients experiencing muscle, bone and joint problems. It’s a key priority for the programme and we’re working to address it by introducing a dedicated team of First Contact Practitioners (FCP) in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent who have the advanced skills to assess, diagnose and manage patients with these issues.

FCPs enable patients who would usually see their GP with a muscle, bone and joint problem to either refer themselves directly into existing physiotherapy services or see a practitioner based in a general practice. We currently have two FCP pilot sites operating in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Eccleshall and a third pilot in Cannock is due to get underway soon.

Read More >


Enhanced Primary and Community Care programme

International GP recruitment takes a step forward and work to expand Integrated Care Teams continues

The recruitment of GPs outside of the UK to come to work in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent forms part of our work to provide sustainable general practice services. We’re pleased that several practices have expressed an interest in recruiting an international GP to their ranks. These practices have subsequently received a copy of the learning agreement produced by the national international GP recruitment programme and we look forward to seeing where this leads. We’ve also launched a marketing campaign with the British Medical Journal to promote living and working in Northern Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

Meanwhile, our work on introducing Integrated Care Teams (ICTs) across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent is gaining pace. Our early adopter ICTs are already making their mark, while we've set up a steering group to oversee the delivery of ICTs within each of the 23 localities and look forward to progressing this change to community service provision.

Read More >


Workforce programme

Exciting new projects being developed from Workforce Think Tank and successful NHS Careers Event

Following our successful Workforce Think Tank event, which was well attended by staff from 30 organisations across the system, we have been analysing the outputs and are working on rolling out several new projects and groups. These will support flexible retirement and retention, careers hub/’itchy feet’ conversations, a new route into nursing, the Apprenticeship Levy sharing process and a young people’s marketing strategy linked to an APP or website targeted directly for them.

This month we also attended the annual NHS Careers Event which took place at County Showground in Stafford. Youngsters in Years 8-10 from schools all across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent attended the event, which showcased a plethora of hugely different roles available in the NHS. Meanwhile, the recruitment process to the End of Life/Palliative Care rotational apprenticeship is planned to get underway in December and will see eight recruits beginning placements in NHS, private and voluntary organisations across the county.

Read More >