Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Guest blog and announcement on our future (position paper included)

Today our Board had a challenging discussion about our future strategy; one in which we reflected on our previous aspirations and the changing world in which we find ourselves.   

When we took on community services, we had a vision we could make a real difference to people’s lives. By aligning community and mental health services within the same organisation, we felt local people could truly benefit from a 'whole person' service approach; bringing physical and mental health together.

We wanted to showcase the combined impact that these two complementary 'Cinderella' services could make - to support the hospitals buckling under the strain and, mostly importantly, help change lives. We felt that we could provide a local voice and also a safe haven and nurturing environment for our community services.

We have achieved some great things, particularly around children's and older people services, the two ends of life's full spectrum.  Our physical health services benefited from a psychological perspective and vice versa.

But, for a whole host of reasons, we have not been able to fully realise the vision we had for integrated, whole person care.

Now, with the rise of local care organisations (LCOs), we are seeing strong locality ownership for improvement, with a desire for local providers to be very visible and active within borough-based partnerships. 

While people have worked very hard to do this for both mental health and community services, we have struggled to represent all elements of our portfolio with the same strong voice in each LCO.

And that has brought us to today. With a heavy heart, but a huge dose of realism, the recommendations in the position paper on our future strategy were approved by our board this afternoon.  Click here to read our position paper.

As you know, it proposes that we look at community services developing as part of local care organisations and concentrate our efforts on mental health and learning disability services in their widest sense. Allowing both to extend, enhance and fulfil their potential for the benefit of local people in this changing new world.

It was good to see around 30 people in attendance at the board meeting, nearly all of those staff. We opened up the meeting for public questions on our strategy position paper, which included queries about specific services, next steps and possible future providers.

We understand and respect the different emotions that people are feeling, which include disappointment and worries about the future. And we want to always work and behave with complete integrity and compassion. The questions provided an opportunity for us to talk about close partnerships, strong relationships with commissioners and being a strong local alliance member, as the future is about collaboration.  

This is all about people and we talked about our responsibilities as a board to never do anything detrimental to patient care.

While the Board has approved the direction of travel in principle, we need to gather lots of views before our final strategy goes to our board in December.

It's been a journey to get us to this first stage. I hope that the time many services have been with us has been well spent, but accept that this time may be coming to an end.

We should always do the right things for the right reasons, even if it's hard. And that includes acknowledging we might not be the best organisation to continue providing a service.

So, let's keep talking. We want to hear your views and will be putting plans in place to do this. Let's all help shape the future.

Thank you.


Dr Henry Ticehurst
Medical Director


  1. I can't help but think that more money should be spent on the frontline of the service and less on the business/corporate/senior management end. Pennine should focus on the service users we represent and not on the creation of new senior managerial positions with fancy titles and limited frontline experience. This inequality exacerbates this constant financial pressure we are frequently reminded of. Perhaps at some point the board will see the wood for the trees and remind themselves why they work within a mental health service. *I don't expect this message to be in keeping with what is acceptable for comment and will never be published, censorship - However, hopefully Henry or someone of similar standing may get to read it, probably not...*

    1. Just verbally shared this comment with my "frontline" colleagues. It received a resounding "hear hear" Over to you Henry!

  2. Thanks for your message, we always want to hear everyone’s views. We are looking very closely at every penny we spend, so that we can be more efficient and have more money to improve patient care. As Simon Stevens, the chief exec of the NHS said in his first speech, we all need to “Think like a patient and act like a tax-payer”.

  3. Hopefully that is an ethos that Pennine adopt.

    Incidentally, I've noticed between senior management it is popular to Tweet. In fact it appears it is encouraged to use Social Media and that if you're not doing it then why not?

    In terms of social media Simon suggests that

    "Social media companies should be forced to pay a levy to fund treatment for a mental health crisis that they are helping to create"

    So in popularising and encouraging the use of this medium are we indirectly contributing to Simon's concerns?