Staff will be aware that I am leaving Pennine Care in the New Year. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of people wishing me good luck and saying they are pleased for me. I have also heard the odd rumour or question as to whether my departure has anything to do with the CQC rating, or had I been positioning myself with the work I have done at a Greater Manchester level. Neither of these are true or accurate and so, having been at Pennine Care and previously Stockport mental health services for 16 years, I wanted to write a blog explaining why I am moving on.
The main feedback I have had following news of my departure is shock that after 16 years I was moving on, given I am seen to be synonymous with Pennine Care. There is also concern as to what this will mean for Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust. This will be a brief blog in which I hope to address and answer three questions: is my move in anyway related to the Trust’s recent CQC rating? Have I been seeking other opportunities as part of my work at a GM level? What does this mean for the Trust going forward?
Taking each question in turn.
My move is not in any shape or form related to the recent CQC rating of Requires Improvement. I can understand why people might ask the question but there aren’t any links and it worries me that staff, patients or the public might think the recent rating by the CQC was significantly negative, because that just isn’t the case.
The CQC described our rating as a ‘Green’ Requires Improvement. If you read the report and look at the ratings there are many green and good ratings, we can be proud of what we have achieved. I am not trying to downplay the Requires Improvement rating, we must take the concerns raised seriously, I am just trying to provide some balance. Our CAMHS in-patient services were rated outstanding, which is a fantastic achievement, and no services were rated inadequate. Where we do Require Improvement, these are services we are actively supporting. An example of this would be the additional investment into our wards which we secured last year and have done again for 17/18.
Pennine Care’s CCGs have offered to set up a supportive Improvement Board, where we can collectively progress the action plan already in place. This support is very welcome and the CQC felt we should be able to secure an overall Good rating within a relatively short space of time. So there’s much more good news than bad, a lot to be proud of and not a reason to be moving on or be moved on!
Turning to why I am moving on. Staff work tirelessly for this Trust and for me as Chief Executive, so I thought it important to offer a personal explanation as to why I have accepted a new position. To give some context to my decision, over the nine years I was a Director of Operations and the three years I have been Chief Executive, I have been approached on a number of occasions encouraging me to apply for other positions and opportunities. I have always said no as I could never envisage a better opportunity than the one I have here at the Trust. I have loved my work at Pennine Care and am immensely proud to have led the Trust and served the six towns we provide services for. I believe in our strategy and feel we have really achieved a lot together. The Trust has a strong reputation and is viewed positively by the vast majority of stakeholders and those who use our services. We don’t get everything right but we can justifiably stand tall at the dedication of the Trust’s staff to deliver high quality and safe services.
In the last year or two, my profile as Chief Executive has been raised within Greater Manchester but I haven’t pursued this to position myself, as that just isn’t my style. All I want to do each day, and have done since I was a student nurse, is do the best job I can and try to make sure patients get the best care possible. As part of my personal objectives, I have had two in particular that I suspect have led to the opportunity I am going to. Firstly, I was tasked with influencing the Greater Manchester strategic case for health and social care to ensure out of hospital care and mental health featured in the GM strategy. I am pleased to say we definitely influenced themes 1 and 2 of the GM strategy developing (prevention and community services respectively) and we helped ensure mental health has secured its own strategic space. Secondly, during the bid for Manchester’s mental health services (which we didn’t win!) we learned the Trust’s profile and reputation wasn’t high enough. Again I was tasked with making sure the Trust was better positioned in the bid process we were pursuing. We definitely had the Trust’s qualities, values and capability showcased during the bid and received some overwhelmingly positive feedback. That said, we couldn’t compete financially, which I think ultimately left us unable to win the bid.
All of that work shone a light on Pennine Care and the great work we do. It also highlighted in the GM system the style and approach I take as a Chief Executive. Without a long winded explanation, the opportunity in Manchester and my leadership offer seemed the right fit. Once I saw the detail and the potential I have to concede I was unable to resist the challenge.
Third question: what next for Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust? A change of leader can be unsettling and create some uncertainty. However, a leader is just one person and the Trust succeeds upon the efforts of many. Pennine Care is a valued member of a leadership community across six towns, helping lead the development of Local Care Organisations (LCOs) and as a leader for developing and implementing a mental health strategy. The Trust is valued based on all our collective efforts and this won’t be diminished by my moving on. My personal view is that the Trust has a strong future and the challenge ahead will attract a high quality leader as the next Chief Executive.
I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and for those who don’t celebrate the festive season, a peaceful break and for everyone all the best for 2017.
Finally, a big thank you to all our staff who will be working during the seasonal period. I want to personally acknowledge the work you provide to keep services open 24/7, 365 days a year and the vital support this provides to people with health and social care needs.
Best wishes to everyone and I will blog in the New Year to reflect on the many achievements we have had together over many years, to celebrate the great work of the Trust as I move on to a new challenge.