Sheena's Blog: An agenda for action

by Sheena Cumiskey - 15 April 2016

This week, the King’s Fund published an excellent report outlining their ‘three big challenges for the NHS in England’. Of course, we’re well aware of the current pressures facing all parts of the system, and much has been said both nationally and locally about how these difficulties should be addressed, but I was particularly impressed by the positivity and clarity that the King’s Fund report contained.

Indeed, as I read the report, I found myself considering the work we’ve been doing locally, and how we have reflected this agenda for action within the communities that we serve:

Challenge 1 of 3: Developing new and better models of care

“The ageing population, changing patterns of disease – with more people living with multiple long-term conditions – and rising public and patient expectations mean that fundamental changes are required to the way in which care is delivered.”

CWP is a key partner in a number of integrated care programmes across our footprint (you may have heard some referred to as ‘Vanguard’ models over the last year or so). Last week, I attended an event with other healthcare leads involved in the West Cheshire Way to discuss how we can work as one to improve all health services that are delivered in our area. Developing better models of care is about everyone taking responsibility to improve the population together, and it was fantastic to see everyone’s commitment to ensuring that we all move forward as one.

For us, this particularly means making sure that those in our community with mental health needs and physical health needs are treated with parity of esteem, and are well represented in all future healthcare plans.

Challenge 2 of 3: Tackling these challenges by reforming the NHS ‘from within’

“Much more emphasis is now needed on strengthening capabilities for improvement.”

Quality improvement is now a huge part of everyone’s day to day role at CWP. Over the last couple years, a key driver to this has been the Trust’s Zero Harm campaign – our dedication to supporting everyone to deliver the best care possible, as safely as possible, and in doing so reducing avoidable harms. Initiatives such as our Big Book of Best Practice, Locality Data Packs and staff ‘sharelearning’ bulletins have been integral to instilling a culture of continuous improvement and learning from experience.

Our recent CQC inspection - from which our results were overall really positive - has been a great learning opportunity, and has identified a number of areas for us to focus on strengthening.

Challenge 3 of 3: sustaining existing services and standards of care

“The NHS faces unprecedented financial and operational challenges: deficits among NHS providers are large and growing; performance is suffering, with targets for waiting times being missed; and in all areas of the NHS staff are under pressure from rising demand alongside constrained resources.”

When we face challenging times, in all walks of life, it is inevitable that we must make difficult decisions. And I can see from our ongoing focus on continuous improvement that this isn’t something we have shied away from. However, despite the well documented challenges, the one area that I (and everyone else involved with CWP) refuse to jeopardise is the quality of care we are able to provide for people that use our services.

Indeed, this is reflected not only by the CQC – who rated us ‘Outstanding’ for the care we provide – but also by our commitment to investing in the local health economy. As evidenced by our £14m CAMHS new build in West Cheshire, our recent  purchase and refurbishment of Springview in Wirral and developments at Soss Moss and Millbrook in East Cheshire, it is clear that we have invested in creating and sustaining environments that enable those who use our services to achieve the best possible outcomes.

We all have a responsibility as stewards of the NHS to ensure that we sustain our NHS, and I know that you are all up for the challenge. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership to keep making this a reality.

Very best wishes,


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