Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Integrated Care System Monthly Newsletter

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Logo and Vision

May 2022

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Integrated Care System newsletter

It has been an intense few weeks for many of us in the system, whether it is closing the financial year and producing our accounts, developing plans for 2022-23, or the huge collective effort put in to manage demand and capacity over a series of bank holidays. I’d like to thank everyone who has been supporting the system over the past few weeks, and especially to those who have worked over the bank holidays to maintain services during this challenging time.

Peter Axon

COVID-19 occupancy in our hospitals is slowly starting to ease, but remains high. This of course puts pressure on our urgent and emergency care services and ambulance handover times. No one partner can fix this, it will take a collective effort. Combined with our high staff absences due to COVID-19, across both health and care, we can’t underestimate the ongoing challenge. I’d also like to recognise the ongoing patience shown by service users who are facing longer waits – we’re doing everything we can to deliver a better experience for you. 

I especially wanted to highlight the Community Rapid Intervention Service (CRIS) and West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) who have joined forces to reduce patients’ waiting times for an ambulance response with the help of a new shared IT platform. We are continuing to invest in innovative systems that will give us real-time intelligence to help us to provider better services for local people. Through this newsletter we will try to show how we are working to improve services.

Thursday 28 April marked a new milestone in our development as an ICS, with the Government’s Health and Social Care Integration White Paper receiving Royal Assent, from her Majesty the Queen, which enacts the new legislation. This is the biggest change in healthcare legislation in the past decade, and importantly is a real opportunity for us to build on this momentum to deliver our longstanding priorities. At the heart of this reform, is delivering more integrated and patient-centred care. The countdown to 1 July is officially upon us.

To help us deliver these key priorities, I’m pleased to welcome a number of new appointments that will help drive forward this innovation and transformation (further detail below).

I’m also looking forward to getting out-and-about in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent over the coming weeks to share our progress and listen to your views. We are holding a series of roadshows across the area and hope you can join us. The roadshows are also an opportunity to help shape our draft People and Communities Strategy (find out more below).

I wanted to finish by highlighting our first system-wide Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Staff Wellbeing Week, which took place last month. This was a great opportunity for our hard-working health and care colleagues to look after their mental health and take a well-deserved break. Given the pressure that we are all under, the health and wellbeing of our staff is more important than ever. We had a number of influential guest speakers, alongside comedy sessions and mindfulness sessions. If you work in health and care and missed a session, visit our website to watch it on catch-up.

A lot of work has taken place to make this week happen, so I’d like to thank everyone involved.

Peter Axon, Interim CEO for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICS and the anticipated ICB


Recruitment update

A message from Prem Singh, NHS ICB Chair designate:

Prem Singh, Indepedent Chair

"I am delighted to confirm that we will be extending Peter Axon's secondment as the Interim NHS ICB Chief Executive designate for a further six months (until 30 November 2022). 

I'm sure you will welcome this stability, as we move forward with the development of the NHS ICB by the 1 July 2022. Peter and I will keep you updated over the coming months as the Board membership continues to take shape."

Sally Young

This month, the anticipated Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent NHS Integrated Care Board (ICB) welcomed four new executive directors:


Sally Young has been appointed to the position of Corporate Governance Director designate. Read more here.

Heather Johnstone



Heather Johnstone has been appointed as the Interim Chief Nursing and Therapies Officer designate. Read more here


Alex Brett will join us from Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT) as our Chief People Officer. Alex is currently the Director of People for MPFT and has led the ICS People programme for the last three years, including acting as the Vice Chair of the ICS People, Culture and Inclusion Board and leading the People Hub during the COVID-19 response.

Alex Brett
Chris Ibell

Chris Ibell, also from MPFT, will join us as our Chief Digital Officer. Chris is currently the Chief Digital Information Officer for MPFT driving the digital transformation agenda.

Both Alex and Chris will continue with their roles at MPFT as well as taking on their ICB roles.

For more information about the anticipated NHS Integrated Care Board visit the ICS website.

ICS meetings

On Thursday 21 April the Integrated Care System (ICS) Board meeting in public took place. To watch a recording of this meeting or to view the papers, visit the ICS website.

The next meeting in public will be the first formal meeting of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent NHS Integrated Care Board (ICB) that will take place on Friday 1 July 2022, the time is to be confirmed. If you would like to submit a question or attend the meeting please visit the ICS website.

Transformation Update

Our clinicians and managers are continuing to develop our system-wide Transformation Programme, which will support a number of the ICS’s priorities including urgent and emergency care, mental health and maternity services.

During March, we held the reference group meetings for two of our programmes. We invited staff, service users and representatives of the voluntary and community sector to attend and help inform future proposals. Thank you to everyone who joined us at our reference groups considering:

  • The inpatient mental health services previously provided from the George Bryan Centre
  • The Difficult Decisions programmes, which include a range of procedures and policies where there is variation across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

We received a wealth of feedback from both events. No decisions have been made yet and our clinicians and professionals are listening to the comments from these events to help inform the next steps for these important programmes. You can find out more on the ICS website

The Transformation Programme is supported by reference groups, which anyone can join. If you are interested in the work of a reference group or wish to register your interest visit the ICS website.  Keep checking the website and social media channels for updates about the Transformation Programme.

Community Mental Health

Primary care, NHS mental health providers, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), local authorities and voluntary and community sector organisations are working alongside people with lived experience to transform community mental health in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. This will enable adults with severe mental illness to access care and support closer to home in a new, more joined-up and effective way, regardless of their diagnosis or level of complexity.  

Follow the links below to:

ICS big priorities

System savings

We have been working hard to create a balanced financial plan for 2022/23. The work on the financial strategy and systems savings has contributed to a system's efficiency programme expected to deliver more than 3% improvement in 2022/23. This is a real achievement and we would like to thank everyone who has helped work on this programme.

Despite this, we recognise our system still has a significant financial challenge ahead. The draft plan submitted in March still had a deficit of £48m, as we continue to respond to the national requirements to improve performance. A final version of the plan is due by the end of April.

Areas for improvement include:

  • Ensuring that the maximum time that any patient waits for elective care is reduced to less than 104 weeks
  • Meeting the Mental Health Investment Standard
  • Meeting improving times for cancer care.

We also have a significant financial challenge for 2023/24 and beyond. The ICS's chief finance officers have agreed to start work immediately on the development of the strategy to ensure that we achieve a sustainable financial position over this timescale.


ICS Healthy Ageing and Managing Frailty Strategy - The ICS Healthy Ageing and Managing Frailty Strategy was presented and received endorsement from both the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Health and Wellbeing Boards. This is a significant strategy for the ICS that will strengthen our transformation programme and the focus on prevention and reducing health inequalities in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Read more.

Moderate frailty work - A workshop is being organised to agree on a common set of outcomes for service users, when using moderate frailty services across the area. It is an important part of our work to improve the quality and reach of proactive frailty support. The workshop will produce a common understanding of what outcomes are important and why, this will be presented to the Place Based Partnerships (PBPs) for discussion regarding local plans for delivery. Details of the workshop are to be confirmed.

Community rapid intervention service (CRIS) - This service aims to prevent admission to an acute hospital trust, instead supporting people in their community where possible. If a person does need to be admitted to hospital, the team supports them to return home as soon as they are medically fit. Full details of the CRIS evaluation, that will be used to inform the development of the future CRIS Strategy, can be found here

Investing in our staff

Virtual wellbeing week

Virtual Wellbeing Event

The first annual Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Wellbeing Event took place from Monday 25 April to Sunday 1 May 2022. The week had something for everyone, from keynote speakers, workshops, laugh-out-loud moments, plus the latest thinking about our mental and physical health.

With more than 60 hand-picked events, our first annual virtual wellbeing week has been specially created for all health and care staff and their families.

Intriguing workshops on beating burnout, mastering the brain dump and male emotional health will give everyone valuable takeaways. There are absorbing practical sessions on cocktails and mocktails, cooking with fire and doodling and we haven’t forgotten the importance of a good giggle, provided by our comedy nights, a laughter therapy session and dance moves courtesy of Strictly Staffs ‘n’ Stoke.

Visit our website to find out more and to watch any sessions you may have missed.

ICS People function

The ICS People function continues to deliver across its various programmes, including; our People Hub (including a staff celebration event that attracted more than 100 attendees), system deployment, apprenticeship programmes and levy, redeployment services, retention initiatives and more. For more information about the People Hub please email

There are some key updates and highlights from recent months below:

Focus on ICS priorities

ICS Green Plan

ICS Green Plan launch

The ICS Green Plan is a system-wide strategy to capture NHS and local authority ambitions, provide a platform for the wider aspirations towards the national ambition to be net carbon zero, and improve health now and for future generations. The ICS Green Plan was submitted to NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) on 31 March 2022 and is planned to launch in May (following pre-election period).

To launch our plan we are holding an event for health and care workers, voluntary sector and partner organisations on the 26 May. To book a place visit the ICS website.

There will be further opportunities to get involved in our Green Plan over the coming months and we will share more through this newsletter.

For more information about Greener Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent visit the ICS website. You can read the latest Greener NHS bulletin here. Watch this video to discover how the NHS is becoming Greener.

COVID-19 Vaccination Programme


For updates from the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme take a look at the latest newsletter. Statistics of vaccination uptake as at 16 May 2022 are below:

First doses - 900,372 (80% of population aged 5 or over)

Second doses – 850,941 (94.5% of first doses)

Primary booster – 681,799 (83% of eligible population)

Spring booster – 77,377 (61.3% of eligible population)

NHS 111 streaming and validation kiosks

We were selected as a vanguard for the national initiative to launch digital triage clinics in a number of our emergency departments, Haywood Walk-in Centre and minor injury units. This tool is based on the existing NHS 111 triage systems and has been tried and tested through pilots in Blackpool and Portsmouth. As a result, digital kiosks went live at County Hospital Stafford and Royal Stoke University Hospital in September and at Haywood Hospital in December.

The successes at these three sites have since underpinned the decision to launch the next digital kiosk at Queen’s Hospital in Burton which went live on Tuesday 22 March 2022.  Find out more about the streaming and validation kiosks here

Training and events

Spring Inclusion School

with John Amaechi OBE

The ICS hosted its first 2022 Inclusion School session on Tuesday 10 May 2022.

This event welcomed influential guest speaker John Amaechi OBE. John spoke about inclusion and intersectionality, looking at the big questions that cut across different inclusion groups, piling on layers of advantage or disadvantage depending on the blend of characteristics held by the individual and how these are perceived in different situations. Updates will follow on the next event taking place.

john Amaechi
Get involved

ICS Roadshows

Listening to the views of the people who use and work in our services will help us to see how they need to look in the future. We want to understand what is working and what needs to be improved and to support this, we have been working with our partners and the public to develop a new approach to working with our people and communities. Find out more here.

We are holding a series of roadshows across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to give local people, staff and communities the opportunity to ask us questions about the ICS and also have your say on our People and Communities Strategy.

You can find out more and how to book your place on our website.  

Cancer patients invited to share their experiences

Staff, patients and family members connected to the chemotherapy units at Royal Stoke and County Hospital are invited to write and share their experiences of cancer treatment. University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust dietitian and published children’s author Alison Falkonakis and local poet John Mills are inviting people to contribute to a collection of poems, thoughts and drawings that will be gathered over a six-month period.

The team plans to combine contributions into a printed booklet to benefit others. Read more here.

News and features

Liaison and diversion service receives gold award for lived experience charter 

A partnership service has achieved a national gold award in recognition of its commitment to the open recruitment of people with lived experience in criminal justice. 

The Liaison and Diversion service, jointly provided in Staffordshire by North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust (NSCHT) and Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT) is one of six pilots nationally to have completed the Lived Experience Charter process, commissioned by NHS England, Health and Justice. The gold award was presented at the recent Lived Experience Charter awards. Read more here.

Combined Healthcare 'Combinations Podcast'

Have you heard the latest podcasts from North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust? The combinations podcast, ranked ninth in an independently produced list of the top UK healthcare podcasts by Feedspot, includes episodes on the launch of combined virtual reality, patient stories, the Community Mental Health Transformation Programme, and much more. 

Listen online here

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Previous editions of this newsletter can be viewed on the ICS website here.