Hello, my name is Sara and I’m the Chief Executive of Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

This is my first blog for West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership in my new role as the chief executive lead for mental health – a position recently held by Nicola Lees, who retires as CEO for Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust in April 2018.

You don’t need to look far to understand why mental health is one of our partnership priorities. A Healthwatch survey in January highlighted that mental health care is the public’s number one concern; including support to young people around early intervention and accessing appropriate help.

Looking back over the past 12 months there has been a stronger focus on mental health and, in particular, the role of schools in supporting young people with mental health needs. So much so that in December 2017 the Department of Health and Department for Education jointly published the green paper: Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision; proposing that every school will be encouraged to identify a lead for mental health. The consultation on the green paper ends today and we look forward to the findings. In the meantime, it’s reassuring to know that the support needed for children and young people is quite rightly being nationally recognised. We must remember that a lot of young people are also carers for a parent or sibling who has a mental illness.

Nationally we know that one in ten children and young people have a diagnosable mental health disorder and there is strong evidence that tackling mental illness early improves lives.

On the 1 April we will be going live with our new care model for specialist child and adolescent mental health services. This aims to improve community support and reduce the need for young people to go into hospital, or when needed, have shorter stays. Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust are leading on this important area of work and we look forward to providing updates as the work progresses.

You may also be aware of the work taking place to develop a children and young people mental health unit in Leeds. This new unit will mean children and young people across our area that require an inpatient bed will be able to get the care they need closer to their homes, making it easier for their family and carers to visit.

For example, watch Paul’s story. He talks bravely about coping with his mental illness as a teenager in this short film and explains how staying close to his family and friends were very important to him.

Providing person centred care and support with a focus on outcomes to achieve 'self-defined recovery' that considers how people want to live within the context of their mental health condition is also at the centre of the work we do, both locally and across West Yorkshire and Harrogate.

Supporting people of all ages as close to home as possible and in their communities is a key part of the way we work. This is why local relationships with councils, community organisations and schools etc. are very important and all the mental health providers are working proactively in our local places (Bradford District and Craven; Calderdale, Harrogate, Leeds, Kirklees and Wakefield) to develop these relationships for the benefit of those receiving care. Only by working together can we better support people in their own home, in the least restrictive way, to live the life they choose and want.

Our partnership approach also includes addressing health inequalities. For example, if you are a man with a severe mental illness in West Yorkshire and Harrogate you are three times more likely to die of circulatory disease (smoking, an unhealthy diet and stress all increase the risk of heart disease; a heart attack or stroke can occur if the circulatory condition is untreated) and twice as likely to die of cancer than someone who is mentally well.

There are some fantastic examples across the Trusts of improving the physical health of people as well as working in partnership with acute and primary care providers to make sure those with serious mental illness can get the right care, in the right place at the right time. However, statistics show that this is an area where we can do much better and investment in liaison psychiatry is one area where we can make a bigger difference in the short term.

Our partnership ambitions include a 40% reduction in unnecessary A&E attendance; a stronger approach to suicide prevention with an aspiration of achieving a 10% reduction overall and a 75% reduction in mental health settings by 2020/21. We launched our suicide prevention plan last year and you can read it here.

We are committed to stop placing people out of area as we know this is not good for people who use services, their families and carers, and for health services. Through our closer working arrangements we will share best practice across the area and work together to reduce out of area placements.

We recognise the mental health of new mums and mums-to-be is so important given how vulnerable women can be at this monumental point in their lives. This is why we are also developing a new perinatal mental health service which will have staff based in all our localities, supporting pregnant women and new parents after the birth of their baby.

My own Trust is currently developing a community based service for adults with severe eating disorders to help people across the whole of West Yorkshire and Harrogate. We already provide the service for people living in Leeds; improving quality of life and reducing the need to transfer people out of area, whilst achieving a 30-40% reduction in the number of hospital bed days per year. I look forward to seeing this rolled out further so that everyone across WY&H can receive the support they need closer to home.

You can find out more about our mental health work at www.wyhpartnership.co.uk/next-steps

What else has been happening this week?

Elective care and standardisation of policies

A meeting took place on Tuesday to discuss the data available to inform the work programme; including chronic pain management, primary and secondary care information. A presentation was also given later in the day to discuss the work with GPs and hospital doctors for their views on supporting healthy choices where building clinical leadership across all health care sectors is important.

Cancer Alliance – new website

Our WYH Cancer Alliance this week launched its website, accessible via its own URL, http://canceralliance.wyhpartnership.co.uk/ It can also be accessed through the cancer section of Our Priorities on the health and care partnership website, http://www.wyhpartnership.co.uk/about/our-priorities

The Alliance continues to use the @WYHpartnership Twitter account, along with @profseanduffy; is also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WYHCancerAlliance/ and is developing a presence on Instagram @canceralliancewyh

Embracing innovation and improvement across West Yorkshire and Harrogate

Diabetes patients and people with long term conditions and those with heart disease will be among the first to benefit from a major new drive to modernise the delivery of health and social care across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. Using innovation to improve health care we will be working in partnership with Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network to improve health outcomes in a range of services including treating people with Atrial Fibrillation, which helps to prevent stroke. We are also looking to prevent the number of heart attacks and diabetes using the latest innovations available.

Stroke programme

The stroke programme met this week. This includes colleagues from hospitals, clinical commissioning groups, Academic Health Science Network and business intelligence. There was a discussion around the take up of work to prevent strokes. In particular, using the best evidence of how we treat atrial fibrillation across West Yorkshire and Harrogate (atrial fibrillation causes a fast and erratic heartbeat which is a major factor of stroke.)This work is about detecting and treating people who are at risk of stroke so that around 9 in 10 people with atrial fibrillation are managed by GPs with the best local treatments, saving lives and delivering efficiencies too. There was also a conversation around workforce and the seven day standards.

What’s happening next week?

  • The Joint Committee for the 11 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in West Yorkshire and Harrogate (WY&H) will meet in public on the 6 March 2018.The Committee, which is part of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, has a shared health programme of work that aims to further improve the health and wellbeing of the 2.6 million people living across the area. The agenda for the 6 March and information from the previous meeting held in public in January are published at www.wyh-jointcommiteeccgs.co.uk
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate Clinical Forum will meet on Tuesday.
  • Our Executive Leadership Group also meets on Tuesday.
  • We are interviewing on Wednesday for a project support officer for our maternity programme.
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate programme leads meet on Thursday.
  • Our communication and engagement network meets on Thursday.