Hundreds attend first Suicide Prevention Conference in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent

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A commitment to achieving an ambition of zero suicides in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent was the focus of a major event hosted by the Together We’re Better health and care partnership.

Almost 300 people from health and care services, alongside voluntary and community groups, schools, colleges and other organisations came together for the Suicide Prevention – Making a Difference Together Conference, held in Stoke-on-Trent.

Together We’re Better’s Mental Health programme is aiming to reduce the number of suicides across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. A Zero Ambition Suicide Charter setting out this aim was signed at the event by a number of TWB partners.

The event heard from a range of specialists on the day; however, the most powerful stories were given by those whose lives have been touched directly by suicide or of feeling suicidal and who spoke of the importance of communication.

New psychiatric intensive care facility helping to reduce out of area mental health placements in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent

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A new state-of-the-art facility providing specialist mental health support has opened in North Staffordshire.

The £2.4m Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is based at Harplands Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent, comprising six bedrooms with en-suite facilities.

Opened by North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust, the unit is linked directly onto the adult acute wards at Harplands and been designed to accommodate both male and female patients. It includes activity rooms, therapy rooms, a therapy garden and seclusion facilities.

The facility will allow specialist treatment to be available quickly for patients and as close to their home as possible. It has been designed to accommodate demand from the Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire areas, which will mean patients no longer have to travel significant distances to access this level of psychiatric care.

Valuable visits to Community Hospitals in South Staffordshire

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From our Independent Chair, Sir Neil McKay

This month I have been out and about with David Pearson, Vice Chair for Together We’re Better visiting the two community hospitals in the south of the county, following my visits to those in North Staffordshire earlier this year. These visits gave us the chance to meet and talk with local staff at both sites, as well as local stakeholders and it was a great pleasure for us to see the best practice that can be shared across the Together We’re Better partnership.

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent chosen to spearhead new national leadership scheme

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The health and care partnership for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent has been chosen as one of only a handful of areas in the country to benefit from a new scheme aimed at developing future talent.

Together We’re Better (TWB) has been selected as a pilot site for NHS Leadership Academy’s High Potential Scheme.

The scheme will support help in identifying and supporting the brightest stars in the local health and care system and help accelerate their career development.

Planned Care and Cancer programme - First Contact Practitioners helping to transform local services

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Muscle, bone and joint problems, also known as musculoskeletal (MSK) issues are the biggest cause of work absence and physical disability in the UK.

Almost a third of all primary care consultations are related to MSK, while 10% of all GP referrals are for patients experiencing muscle, bone and joint problems.

Traditional referrals to specialist MSK services require a patient to see their GP before being put on a waiting list; for example access to physiotherapy treatment. This can lead to delays in access to treatment, increased GP workload and, on occasion to inappropriate referrals being made.

It’s a key priority for the programme and we’re working to address it by introducing a dedicated team of First Contact Practitioners (FCP) in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent who have the advanced skills to assess, diagnose and manage patients with musculoskeletal issues.

Workforce Programme - Exciting new projects being developed from Think Tank and successful NHS Careers Event

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Following our successful Workforce Think Tank event, which was well attended by staff from 30 organisations across the system, we have been analysing the outputs and are working on rolling out several new projects and groups.

These will support flexible retirement and retention, careers hub/’itchy feet’ conversations, a new route into nursing, the Apprenticeship Levy sharing process and a young people’s marketing strategy linked to an APP or website targeted directly for them.

All of these projects and groups cover topics raised in the three workshops held at the event, which focused on marketing and branding, flexible working and sharing the apprenticeship levy.

This month we also attended the annual NHS Careers Event which took place at County Showground in Stafford. Youngsters in Years 8-10 from schools all across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent attended the event, which showcased a plethora of hugely different roles available in the NHS.

Enhanced Primary and Community Care Programme - International GP recruitment takes a step forward and work to expand Integrated Care Teams continues

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The recruitment of GPs outside of the UK to come to work in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent forms part of our work to provide sustainable general practice services.

We’re pleased that several practices have expressed an interest in recruiting an international GP to their ranks. These practices have subsequently received a copy of the learning agreement produced by the national international GP recruitment programme and we look forward to seeing where this leads.

We’ve also launched a marketing campaign with the British Medical Journal to promote living and working in Northern Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

The Physicians Associates (PA) programme is going from strength to strength, with two PAs having been retained in general practice locally after completing their internship. In addition, one PA is working a session a week to support North Staffordshire GP Federation with developing the internship.

Mental Health programme - New Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit opens and first TWB Suicide Prevention Conference held

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Among the key priorities identified by Together We’re Better is to significantly reduce out of area placements in mental health.

We’re delighted therefore that a new £2.4m Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) has now opened in North Staffordshire that will help to address this. When people require intensive psychiatric care it’s important the specialist treatment they receive is delivered quickly and as close to their home as possible.

The new six-bedded unit links directly to the acute adult wards at Harplands Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent. It will be able to accommodate both male and female patients and includes activity rooms, therapy rooms, individual en-suite facilities and a therapy garden. Congratulations to North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust, who have led on this exciting new project.

Organisational Development and Leadership - National bid to develop health and care leaders of the future a success

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We’re delighted to have been successful in our application to the NHS Leadership Academy to become a pilot site for the High Potential Scheme (HPS), having been selected from a large number of bids. The scheme will be led by Caroline Donovan, SRO for the Together We’re Better Leadership and Organisational Development programme.

The aim of the scheme is to identify, support and develop people in our workforce who have the potential to be our leaders of the future. This exciting opportunity will be available to people working, delivering and supporting NHS-funded care across the whole of Staffordshire. Successful participants will have structured career support and tailored leadership development to accelerate their progression into senior roles.

We anticipate this opportunity will enable a diverse and inclusive cohort of leaders for the future, linked to pipelines of talent across Staffordshire. More information about this story is available here.