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A Christmas message from Karen Dowman, Chief Executive

2012 - A rollercoaster of a year

It’s been a dramatic year, looking back over the months, with a great deal of change and a lot of ups and downs.

One of the high points was achieving Care Quality Commission (CQC) standards compliance across our services after having received warning notices earlier in the year. We currently have only one minor concern outstanding at Penn Hospital, a clean bill of health for Pond Lane and Ridge Hill, and a total of just three minor concerns across the whole organisation. We’ve come a long way in demonstrating the quality of our services, which is definitely worth celebrating.

I do want to touch on the low points of the year because they presented some big challenges to staff and service users across different areas. Receiving the CQC warning letters over the quality of care at Penn was a tough experience especially when a lot of improvement work was already underway. It’s also been challenging having to continually make savings as an organisation and that’s not going to get any easier.

Another low point was having the rehabilitation service at Churchvale, West Bromwich, decommissioned. Churchvale staff continued to be totally professional and caring right up to the last minute and I’m pleased to say that nearly all staff have been redeployed.

Looking outside our organisation to the wider NHS, I’m very aware of the sweeping changes taking place and the thousands of people being made redundant. We are having to say goodbye to long-standing colleagues as the Strategic Health Authority and the Primary Care Trusts disappear.

Despite the setbacks and hurdles, there is much to feel positive about. The first new ward at Penn has just opened to receive male patients, and early in the new year the older adults ward will be opening. This is a huge milestone and has taken an enormous effort from staff and partners in a very short space of time.

In the other divisions, there’s been much internal work going on in Children, Young People and Families, and I’m pleased to highlight the increased number of health visitors and the new team structure to support the service. The Learning Disabilities division has focused on bringing services together and agreeing a new strategy for the service. Credit is due to them for their efforts.

Throughout the organisation people have been working hard on transformation projects. There’s been a real emphasis on going back to basics with nursing care and a drive to improve quality, not just from our perspective but from the patients’ point of view.

I’m proud of the genuine interest in service improvement shown by the Make a Difference groups and by our governors and members. This support and interest are great assets to us as an organisation and give us real strength and depth for consulting people about changes to services.

Looking ahead to 2013, I have real confidence in our strengths as an organisation and in the impact our work has on people’s lives. I’d like to thank people for their commitment, both inside and outside the Trust, and to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and all the best for the coming year.