Friday, 27 April 2018

A fine balancing act...

The last few weeks have brought into sharp focus just how challenging it is balancing quality and money as we have been finalising contract negotiations with our commissioners and setting budgets for the next year.

It’s clear that we’re still facing financial difficulties, with a predicted deficit of around £11m going into the new financial year. However, our Board recognises the need to continue to invest in our services despite this, and have made some key decisions to invest in quality improvement in areas such as safer staffing and Information Management &Technology. 
We have had some challenging discussions with commissioners over the last few months, but I am pleased to say we have reached agreement on a number of areas which I see as really positive: 

  • We have secured an additional £2m funding towards safer staffing on our mental health wards
  • Commissioners have agreed to fund our enhanced capacity mental health beds – these are additional beds over and above those agreed in our block contract that have been open but unfunded for a number of years 
  • We have agreed to extend our community services contract with Trafford for another two years, with an agreed risk sharing agreement
  • We are receiving transformation funds to support the development of mental health and community services in areas such as core 24 and out of hospital models

Although we have finished 2017/18 with a deficit, I am pleased that we have finished in a better position than planned with a c£4m deficit rather than £6-7m deficit as predicted at the start of the year. This would not have been possible without the efforts of all of you, our staff, and so thank you. It isn’t easy working in public services at the moment, but I am as ever, grateful for your continued commitment and hard work. I would also like to say thank you to the finance team as it’s always a challenging time of year managing the year end accounts and I recognise just how much hard work has gone into this.  

Maintaining and improving quality in times of reducing resources is incredibly difficult, but I have been struck by your hard work and diligence in continuing to provide great care and support on some of the visits I have undertaken recently.

Our Chair - Evelyn and I recently visited the Health & Wellbeing College and we were inspired by the stories of students there who have turned their life around and gone on to find work or further training. The college’s recovery-focused courses support people to recognise their potential and make the most of their talents and resources, through self-management. A real example of how we make a difference to the communities we serve. 

We both also visited Community Services in Bury and visited a number of different teams. Again, we were struck by how hard everyone is working to deliver good care but also recognised just what a high degree of stress and strain increasing demand is placing on individuals. Services in Bury seem to benefit from very strong team working which appeared to help teams cope with this, but it was still a concern for us. 

And we heard from the Oldham West Community Integrated Team at a recent Board meeting and we were all struck by the strength of their partnership working and the impact this was having on people’s lives as demonstrated in the patient stories they shared. These showed patients receiving a more timely and efficient service, and this integrated way of working is one I am keen to see develop across other areas.

My apologies to the HMR Mental Health services for not being able to get to your away day last week, but am hoping to get to the next one. 

So, my thanks to all of you trying to keep quality first and foremost in your services despite the challenging financial environment, and we will continue to do our best to create an environment where this continues to be possible. 

Claire Molloy
Chief Executive