I was very pleased to get the opportunity to write this blog so early in my time at Notts Healthcare as it gives me the chance to outline some of my ambitions for the Trust, our place in the health and care system and share some of my first impressions.
I’m writing at a time of sustained pressure on our health and care services. Naturally this presents some big challenges, but from my experiences so far I have witnessed Trust colleagues and colleagues across the system using their ingenuity and innovation to put our patients and local communities first.
I am so grateful for this ‘can-do’ attitude, and for the continued focus on delivering safe services that I have been seeing every day, but I am mindful that colleagues are under relentless pressure and that staff wellbeing has never been more important.
I’m very pleased with the support we are already able to offer our colleagues to help with both work challenges and the external cost of living pressures, but we must do more and we will. In terms of managing the work pressures, it’s crucial that we work closely and differently with our colleagues across the health and care system. We’re all in this together and I know everyone is doing all they can to care for those who need our help. Thank you for all that you do.
As one of the largest mental health, learning disabilities and community Trusts in the country, Nottinghamshire Healthcare delivers services across not only Nottingham and Nottinghamshire but also across the East Midlands and nationally. Over my first few months in post, I have made it my mission to get out and about to meet as many colleagues as I can within the Trust, across our Integrated Care System, and further afield.
I’m pleased that my first months in post have coincided with the creation of the ICS Strategy. I know that senior leaders from across the Trust have contributed to its development and it provides a clear vision of where we want to get to.
I’m particularly pleased about the strong focus on prevention, which is key and shapes much of our transformation work. I have also been struck by the very strong focus on prevention and health promotion within the various Integrated Care Board (ICB) meetings. Whilst these are two key responsibilities of the ICB, in my experience that doesn’t necessarily mean it translates into a clear priority, particularly when there are so many system operational pressures to deal with.
I’m proud of some of the Trust’s achievements over the last few years, much of which makes some headway into delivering on the intentions in the ICS Strategy. For example, we have made incredible progress towards transforming our mental health services, particularly in our work with Primary Care Networks where we have embedded key roles like Mental Health Practitioners, and by increasing capacity in CAMHS with new positions in eating disorders and an expansion of mental health support in schools.
In terms of adult mental health, at the end of last year we were proud to open our new state-of-the-art Sherwood Oaks Hospital, a purpose-built, four-ward, 70-bed unit with single room en-suite accommodation. This is a big step forward in our aim to eradicate dormitory accommodation and I know that this is going to be both a fantastic place to work and for people to receive care.
We are also working closely with our voluntary sector colleagues to deliver crisis sanctuaries, crisis helpline, mental health pathways and support for people with co-existing mental health and substance misuse. This all forms part of our ongoing strategy for working collaboratively with other organisations as part of the transformation programme to improve outcomes for our patients.
Similarly, there have been some fantastic developments in community care, including the rollout of our Urgent Community Response service, and I was heartened to hear of the impact this service has had in terms of helping flow through our acute hospitals in Nottinghamshire. In fact, I was a national call a few weeks ago where I heard our Nottinghamshire Urgent Community Response service being hailed as a national leader because of the way they were intercepting calls straight from the ambulance call centre ‘stack’.
We have also been involved in the development of virtual wards with partners across the system. We know that when patients are treated in their own homes it benefits their health and wellbeing and our virtual wards will support patients with respiratory conditions to be discharged from hospital and continue to receive the same quality of care in the place they call home. This is a different way of working for all of us and I recognise we have a way to go but I have been heartened by the recognition of our need to do things differently.
These are all really exciting developments and none of it would be possible without our partners across the Integrated Care System, who we have continued to work closely with. But as well as working with partners, I think that working with our people and communities is key to the success of the ICS Strategy, actively listening to their needs and aspirations and ensuring they are represented across the system. The voluntary sector has a unique relationship with our communities and its value cannot be underestimated as both advocates for and as a link to our local populations.
Earlier this month, along with other provider system leaders, we spent some time looking at the key priorities of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Provider Collaborative. These conversations resonate with me in terms of the fact that there are probably a few things that are in the gift of NHS Provider Trusts in the ICS to do differently that could make a difference to patient care.
I’m impressed that there is real enthusiasm for collaboration from Notts providers to further develop our services together for the benefit of patients, families and communities. I have a growing confidence that now we have established two core priorities within the provider collaborative, we will create the infrastructure and the momentum to bring about lasting change in how we work together.
The future of our Integrated Care System is very much in the hands of each and every one of us, and I’d like to end by thanking you all for the exceptionally warm welcome I have received as a newbie in the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire system.
I look forward to continuing to meet as many of you as possible over the coming months so we can collectively realise our ambition to improve services for people and communities. I’m passionate about making a difference to both the communities we serve and the colleagues we work with, and together I hope we can cement Nottingham and Nottinghamshire’s reputation as a great place to work, live and receive care.
Ifti took up his position as Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire Healthcare on Thursday 1 December 2022.
He joined the Trust from Derbyshire Healthcare where he had held the position of Chief Executive for over five years, with an additional two years preceding this as Acting Chief Executive.
A mental health nurse by background, Ifti qualified in 1988 after training at St George’s Hospital in London. He has held a range of clinical posts in adult mental health services, both in acute inpatient and community settings.
Ifti also has significant experience of effective leadership holding several nursing management roles before being promoted through senior management and executive roles.
He also holds a number of national positions, including Chair of the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Network, and Co-Chair of their BME Leadership Network.