Sir Julian Hartley visits North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare

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24 April 2023

Julian Hartley
Chief Executive

The trust: 

Harplands Hospital runs one of the NHS’ leading dementia care wards. It’s part of North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust.

The challenge:  

North Staffordshire’s communities have seen a rise in social problems, including substance abuse. This has led to many individuals requiring treatment, care and support from the Crisis Care Centre at Harplands. The centre provides a single point of access for all those in mental health crisis, triaging needs promptly by using a multidisciplinary approach. This includes a Place of Safety for people in extreme mental distress who are detained for their own safety and the safety of others under the Mental Health Act.


There’s a real emphasis on strong multi-agency collaboration across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire to tackle the systemic issues underpinning the cases the team deal with. In addition, as part of Project Chrysalis, which sets out to further improve inpatient facilities and patient experiences, the trust is transforming part of the hospital, previously offices, into a brand-new inpatient ward area which will enable the trust to eliminate all dormitory-style accommodation.

Julian says: 

It was great to visit Harplands Hospital to meet with chair David Rogers, chief executive Buki Adeyemo and members of their team. I visited ward 6, a specialist older people’s ward supporting people with complex mental health illness and dementia. The environment here is carefully designed to promote a homely, recognisable environment with a full range of activities to support and stimulate patients. There’s a salon where they’re given personal care and attention, making sure they feel special. It’s clear that ward manager Lisa and the team go the extra mile to ensure wonderfully kind and compassionate care is the hallmark of this service, and that patient experience and care is paramount. 

I was shown a fascinating virtual reality film which recreates the experience of delirium to simulate the condition. This is used to increase awareness of the impact of delirium for patients, and more broadly in staff training across the health and care system.

I then had a chance to discuss the trust’s challenges and how they’re responding. A key issue is their developing relationship with primary care; the trust’s taken on three GP practices as trust employees. This means the trust now has a Directorate of Primary Care. It’s currently working with Keele University to gather evidence on the benefits of this integration.

The power of integration across health and care is a fundamental part of the trust’s approach, informed by a very practical ‘can do’ attitude. I left inspired and enthused by this great work, particularly in an area facing significant health, social and economic challenges.

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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