05 July 2012

A challenging year leads to opportunities for positive change

Continual service improvement informed by service users, carers and staff - this was one of the overriding themes of our annual general meeting on Wednesday 4th July.

Whilst acknowledging that 2011/12 was a 'turbulent' year for the Trust, interim chair Tony Gallagher emphasised that it is now time for us to move into a different place and that we have a lot to be proud of.

Tony set out the four key commitments of the Trust board:

  • Improving the working experience of our staff
  • Listening and responding to service users, carers and clinicians
  • Being open, inclusive and less defensive
  • Delivering consistent service quality

He further stressed the need: to be attuned to the voice of staff and take action; to make sure there is a direct dialogue between the board and service users, carers and clinicians; to be more responsive to our local communities; and to play a part in developing local social and healthcare systems.

Paul Miller, acting chief executive, continued these themes as he discussed the challenges of the last year and acknowledged that, in spite performing well against many national targets, there are areas where we are still not meeting targets and where we could perform better, such as service users experience and staff satisfaction.

He said, "We cannot rely on targets alone to let us know how we are doing. One of the things we have to look at is why some people still feel the services they are receiving are not quite what they want. Statistics don't always reflect the real, felt experience of service users. For me and for the Board it's about that real experience, not just the performance scorecard."

He highlighted the positive approach we are now taking, with service users, carers and staff playing a vital role in driving the significant changes that we have agreed with commissioners.

Paul was also clear about how important it is for us all to have a balanced picture of how things are in AWP by focusing not only on the challenges but also on our significant successes. The examples he gave included the wide range of new contracts won by specialist drug and alcohol services and other strategic business units and the role of our nationally-recognised improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) service in Swindon and Wiltshire as a national pathfinder service for longer term conditions.

Making sure our services meet the needs of both service users and commissioners is a challenge that is sometimes seen as clinical effectiveness versus cost effectiveness. Paul discussed the work we are doing both locally and with the Department of Health to develop effective care pathways that, whilst cost effective, are underpinned by good clinical outcomes.

Paul concluded, "We have a very viable future and we can do a lot of good."

Sue Hall, interim director of finance, was able to give a positive report of our healthy financial position, saying, "Financially we're in a good place." However, she stressed that there is no room for complacency. In spite of our £3.5m adjusted surplus at the end of 2011/12 we are under continual pressure to make savings and everyone in AWP, whether back office or front line, has a role to play in that.

In response to a question about AWP becoming an FT, Paul confirmed that we aspire to be, and will be, an FT and updated the audience on the likely timescale for our submission to the Department of Health. However, both he and Tony confirmed that becoming an FT is not a stand-alone focus. Paul said, "FT status is not an end in itself but part of a necessary ongoing process," and Tony explained that, "We aim to be a sustainable organisation from a finance and quality perspective. If we are doing the right thing, listening, engaging and making changes, we will have the right mechanics for the FT journey and FT will follow. Everyone in the organisation has a part to play."

Discussions from other questions highlighted the ongoing consultation in Bristol as an opportunity for positive change, and the importance of the voluntary sector in developing and delivering services.

Two presentations followed that both reinforced the message that staff, service users and carers need to drive service change. Felicity Taylor-Drewe of the primary care liaison service rounded off her presentation about the service by thanking all the staff for remaining 100% positive and committed to achieving the service model.

Felicity was followed by Sarah Frizzle, clinical development manager and Ashley Russell, of the Bristol central recovery team, who talked about implementing the recovery star. In relating their experiences of using the recovery model to develop care plans, it was very clear how valuable staff, service users and carers have found the model and this was backed up by the recorded experiences of 'Tony', a service user who has taken part in the pilot.

Tony Gallagher concluded the AGM by thanking all staff for their patience and commitment in what has been, for many, a traumatic period. He stressed the importance of taking our time to get things right and reminded everyone of the Trust's vision of enabling and empowering people to reach their potential and live fulfilling lives.

View the slides for more detail on all the presentations.

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