My week started with a great visit to the #Thrive team in Rochdale. I always hear such positive things about this mental health and wellbeing service for children and young people, but nothing beats visiting a service to really appreciate the benefits it brings to a community.
As well as providing a range of support and activities, such as counselling and online courses, #Thrive helps young people access other types of support, such as sport, drama, music or art, as well as signposting to other mental health services.
It's a superb example of multi-agency working, with our staff working in partnership with other organisations.
Over the last year, I’ve visited lots of community health services and most of our inpatient mental health wards, but haven’t managed to spend as much time with children’s services.
This visit was great opportunity to hear more about services for young people and I am intending to try and get out to more of these services over the coming months. In particular, I have heard a lot of great things about the Hope and Horizon units at Fairfield Hospital, Bury, so really want to visit as soon as possible.
I had a long chat with the #Thrive team manager about the potential future strategy, which has given me plenty of food for thought. They are part of community services but, because of the successful integrated model they have for children and young people in Rochdale, they have a strong connectivity with mental health services.
I knew that staff in this locality had particular concerns about the possible provider split for community and mental health services; many of their staff came to our public board meeting in October when our future strategy position paper was discussed. So, it was good to talk about this on my visit and I am planning on attending a session in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale to talk to people about their concerns.
It is clear that the commissioners in Rochdale are very happy with the services we provide and the integrated children’s model is really making a difference. This was reflected in another meeting I had this week with the senior leaders from the clinical commissioning group and local authority in this locality.
So, we will need to use the next few weeks to explore different scenarios that protect some of the great integration work taking place, not just in Rochdale, but also other localities.
And that’s the genuine purpose behind this engagement period; to hear your views and ideas. As I’ve said before, there does appear to be support from our partners on the overall proposal, so the general main direction of travel is unlikely to change unless we hear a stronger rationale for something different.
This is the purpose of listening, not just to be sensitive and responsive to your concerns, but to hear specific views about different aspects of the proposal and how it affects different localities, so that these can inform final proposals if possible.
I hope you are all having the chance to feedback, either through the staff engagement sessions which we asked your senior managers to set up, or through other channels such as your line manager or partnership officer.
I know that the proposals are impacting on people in different ways and any big changes of this sort create anxiety and uncertainty, but business as usual must always run strongly alongside any proposed changes. Both are about delivering the best possible care to patients, whether that’s in the here and now or the future. It’s the reason we are all here.
So, once again, thank you for your ongoing engagement and commitment. I do encourage you to take every opportunity to share your views and concerns over the next few weeks and we will ensure we share regular updates through the weekly bulletin that has been established.