The two NHS Trusts providing community-based physical and mental health services in Gloucestershire are to join together under the leadership of one Chair and one Chief Executive.
²gether NHS Foundation Trust (²g) and Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust (GCS) will jointly appoint the new leaders later this year.
The joint Chair and Chief Executive will then set plans in motion to bring the two organisations together, with the aim of providing seamless mental and physical health services to patients, service users and carers.
The Trusts’ current Chief Executives, Shaun Clee (²gether) and Katie Norton (GCS), said: “We collectively employ more than 5,000 people, providing high quality healthcare services to people with physical and mental health conditions across Gloucestershire, and in ²gether’s case Herefordshire as well.
“The vast majority of our work is delivered in the community, but we also provide services from inpatient units, such as our community hospitals and specialist mental health units.
“It has become increasingly clear, both locally and nationally, that ‘there is no health without mental health’ and that a combined provider of mental and physical services could benefit many of the people we separately support.”
Chairs Ruth FitzJohn (²gether) and Ingrid Barker (GCS) added: “We believe that an integrated approach will further improve the experience and outcomes our patients and service users receive. It will also enable us to offer a better service to our healthcare partners – such as GPs and the acute hospitals – as well as other statutory and voluntary agencies.
“This will also be beneficial for everyone who works for both organisations. Combining our collective resources, knowledge, innovation and expertise, will enable us to provide a broader career path and open up new ways of working, which we hope will benefit our colleagues as well as our communities.”
Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Amjad Uppal, of ²gether NHS Foundation Trust, said: “There is a growing base of clinical evidence that mental and physical health care should become more integrated. We now know that treating and supporting the ‘whole person’ can aid prevention, improve recovery, increase life expectancies and generally enhance our overall wellbeing. Combining our clinical expertise and care pathways will, we believe, benefit everyone in our communities.”
Sue Field, Director of Nursing at GCS, said: “Our nurses and allied health professionals working in community health services know well the impact long term physical health conditions can have on people’s mental health. I am excited about the opportunity we now have to improve the way we work together to better meet the physical, psychological and social needs of people.”
The new Joint Chair and CEO will be appointed by the end of November, and will take up post in January 2018. Consultation will then begin with staff and partners about the next steps. Both Trusts will remain separate legal entities with independent Boards until a full business case is completed and necessary approvals are received.
Staff within both organisations have been informed, and will be continuously updated in the weeks and months to come. Further announcements will follow in due course.