We’re delighted to welcome Paul Devlin, Chair at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, to the South Nottinghamshire Place-Based Partnership leadership team. Paul took over as our Partnership’s Convenor in the Autumn, following John Brewin’s retirement in August 2022.
A self-confessed ‘governance geek’, Paul is a highly skilled leader and change facilitator with a passion for community engagement. He has 32 years’ experience working in a range of health and social care fields in both the voluntary and public sectors.
He started his career in the third sector, initially with a small local HIV charity at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the late 80s, in a position that was very community and issue focussed. He followed this with a number of national roles at Age Concern, Action for Children and Headway, where he was responsible for engagement, involvement and governance.
It was through these positions that he first became involved in working as a non-executive in the NHS, initially at a Primary Care Trust where he stayed for six years, using his skills and experience to support its transition into Clinical Commissioning Groups.
It was after this that he took up the position of Chair at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust before joining the Nottinghamshire system as Chair of Nottinghamshire Healthcare in early 2020.
Alongside his health and care roles, Paul also runs a successful consultancy business advising and training senior leaders and facilitating Board sessions, and he brings the skills of facilitating conversations and making things happen to the South Notts PBP Board, where he has made a real impact.
His experience with engagement has also been key to the direction of the partnership. Involving people and communities in shaping health and wellbeing services in South Nottinghamshire is vitally important.
As a partnership we’ve taken a bottom-up approach to engagement, making connections with our local communities and supporting people to work together with us on smaller community projects and wider partnership developments.
Paul says: “What the South Notts Place Based Partnership does really well is keep local communities at the heart of what it does. I think its key strength is that it brings together people who are much closer to front line and communities and whose start point is delivery, giving them the space and energy to do that.
“Then there are people like me and others, who think about the governance, how it fits into the whole system jigsaw and concentrate on how we can collectively add value to the delivery of improvements across the patch.
“Everyone around the table is up for doing involvement and engagement for real, showing people that it’s worthwhile getting involved as you can see the change that you have made and the influence that you’ve had.”
South Nottinghamshire has always been a hotbed of innovation, with partnership working consistently strong across Rushcliffe, Gedling, Ashfield and Broxtowe, and across the health, social care and voluntary sector, and Paul has already seen this strong partnership working in action.
“When I’m at a Place-Based Partnership meeting, I’m in a space where the people are actually making a local difference and that is something that we’ve not always got right in system partnership working”, he says.
“We have the right people in the room, NHS, local councils, local Healthwatch, voluntary and community organisations, which enables us to pull together and make real things happen. And these are the people who really know what the challenges are, but at the same time we can then look at the real solutions together.”
South Notts Place-Based Partnership has big ambitions for the next two years, with projects looking at population health management working with two key areas in the patch and some innovative work around the cost of living, falls and mental health support for young people.
Paul says: “There’s some really exciting pieces of work happening at the moment, whether it’s thinking about health inequalities across our patch or some really powerful work around responding to the cost of living crisis.
“Our ambition as a partnership is to take the opportunity, and meet the challenge, of maintaining the focus on the priorities of the South Notts communities while also being a key player in the bigger picture of integrated care and how we’re all working together.
“Where commissioning bodies like NHSE England and ICB have priorities, I think there’s a real momentum to say that some of them could be delivered through the place-based partnership models. I think it’s really important for us to hold on to our primary focus, which is to be driven by our local communities, and where we can make connections with other agendas that is great.
“I think I can support finding our way through any gaps or differences that are there, and if we can hold on to the connectivity to our communities and embrace system change, we will have another great year!”
Professionally, Paul is a very busy man but when he’s not working, you might find him cooking up some vegetarian delights while listening to some of his favourite tunes – he confessed that, just before this interview, he was listening to ‘geeky’ 18 CD bootleg of rare Pink Floyd music!
Paul’s also very active on Twitter where you can catch up with what he’s up to at Nottinghamshire Healthcare and the South Notts PBP or simply pick up some music or cooking tips. Follow Paul on Twitter here.