Sir Julian Hartley visits Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

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26 January 2024

Julian Hartley
Chief Executive

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP) provides a range of health and care services for local people, including mental health, learning disability, community physical health and all-age disability care. It currently serves a population of over 1 million people and provides highly specialised services for 2 million

On arrival at the CWP headquarters I was welcomed by trust chair Isla Wison and chief executive Tim Welch. First, I heard fromDr Bev Sapre and Sarah Hull  on the genesis of CWP and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Cheshire and Mersey Perinatal Service partnership, providing mental healthcare for women, birthing people and families. Access rates are up to 10% of the birthing population, psychological therapies have improved and trauma-informed, compassion-focused therapy is supported by ta system-wide approach.

The trust's new mother and baby unit opens this autumn, offering eight beds for Cheshire and Mersey and North Wales populations. The planning work is informed by 'Experts by Experience' (those who personally use or care for someone using the service, and families and carers working in partnership with the trust). The new unit aims to have a shorter than average length of stay for patients, given the strong integration with community services. 

I learnt about the trust's work as lead for 'Empower ED', a specialised mental health partnership of trusts and independent sector providers across the North West, focusing on adult eating disorders. It also leads 'Level Up'a specialised mental health collaborative for young people and families. These collaboratives cover significant populations of seven and three million respectively across the North West and Cheshire and Merseyside. Both respond to the challenges of increasing referrals post-pandemic, gaps in service provision, delayed transfers out of Tier 4 care, and the need to strengthen local authority partnerships. 

I was struck by
the role of the Experts by Experience. One expert, Molly, gave an arresting account of her experience in her reflective piece 'How does it feel to have an eating disorder?', which she read to us. I learned a huge amount listening to her describe the underlying thoughts and feelings behind the generic label of 'eating disorder'. She explained that this label does not do justice to her full range of experiences and that being 'channelled' through this pathway is limiting. Another Expert by Experience, Nung, described her experience of this as extremely empowering. Both she and Molly felt that their priorities were centred. Nung described her journey through Looked-After Care, the trust's children's service and then universitywhere she studies Psychology. She spoke movingly about her journey and involvement in the trust's award-winning work on patient experience, networking and improvement. I was hugely impressed by their testimony; it speaks to the quality and depth of the programme approach, showcasing the power of patient and service user involvement in genuine partnership. 

Finally, I visited Ancora house, CWP's in-patient service for children and young people from 13-18, and met the staff and residents. Based in a modern, well equipped and well-designed environment. this space integrates with community services as Ancora CARE, a new service aiming to avoid in-patient admission where possible, aiding earlier discharge.

Overall, it was a great visit where I got real insight into the Trust's services. I was particularly impressed with the patient and service user involvement and will certainly remember Molly and Nung's participation in the sessionwhich was enormously powerful. 

About the author

Julian Hartley profile picture

Julian Hartley
Chief Executive

Sir Julian Hartley joined as chief executive in February 2023, having been chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals since 2013, where he led a major programme of culture change and staff engagement to deliver improved quality, operational and financial performance.

Julian’s career in the NHS began as a general management trainee and he worked in a number of posts before progressing to a board director appointment at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust.

In 2019 Julian was asked to be the executive lead for the interim NHS People Plan, having previously worked as managing director of NHS Improving Quality, and in 2022 he was awarded Knight Bachelor for services to healthcare in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Read more

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