AN NHS trust has shaken up its management and is bringing in leaders with "lived experience" following a critical regulator's report.

The Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys (TEWV) NHS Foundation Trust was told to make urgent improvements following inspections from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last year, amid concerns about "unsafe staffing numbers" and "poor culture within the service".

Forensic inpatient services were rated inadequate at the trust in a report published in December last year, with a “toxic culture” flagged up by some workers.

Now a joint scrutiny committee has been given an update on the trust's "journey to change".

Read more: Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust told to 'urgently improve' by watchdog

Trust chairman Paul Murphy said he hoped a tour of the 365-bed  Roseberry Park Hospital in Middlesbrough had "demystified" it before a committee meeting hosted by Darlington Borough Council.

He said: "This is your hospital is a sense. It belongs to the community. We are but its custodians.

"What we're trying to do is create an atmosphere where... everybody is able to talk to everyone else on a human to human level."

The Northern Echo: Paul Murphy. Picture: Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.Paul Murphy. Picture: Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

Pointing to patients' pride in gardening, he said: "It is actually in its own way quite a pleasant environment and the patients play a key part in that. They're in charge of it, to be perfectly honest."

Chief executive Brett Kilmurray said: "People were saying, 'you're not listening to us, you're not hearing what we're saying. There are issues with the culture within the organisation and we need to be more patient-focused in the work that we're doing.'

"So we've listened to that."

He said they aimed to "co-create a great patient, carer and colleague experience and being a great partner".

He said: "It isn't about ticking a box around compliance. It's about making care better and it's about improving the quality of what we do."

The Northern Echo: Brent Kilmurray. Picture: Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.Brent Kilmurray. Picture: Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

He said achievements in the last few months included a new, more simplified and balanced governance structure with "lived experience" roles starting next week.

He told the meeting: "What we wanted to do is to make sure we've got the voice of people that use the service. Lived experience roles are a really positive step in that direction.

"That's going to change the culture. It's going to change the dynamic of the conversation.

"We've completely revamped all of the risk registers, so we've got a really clear thread from the shop floor through to the board.

Read more: TEWV - Trust chief faces stark accounts of ‘let down’ staff and patients

"We've achieved a lot in the last few months but actually over the last few years I think we've moved significantly.

"But what we recognise is there's lots still to be done."

Sarah Dexter-Smith, director for people and culture, said they were improving and speeding up recruitment and now filling vacancies better than other trusts.

She said: "We hear a narrative sometimes that TEWV can't recruit. We recruit really quite healthily.

"Our speed of recruitment is significantly quicker than it was even a month ago. We are recruiting more and more each month."

The Northern Echo: Sarah Dexter-Smith. Picture: Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.Sarah Dexter-Smith. Picture: Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

She said they were working on staff wellbeing and networks where "execs are listening", with more freedom for people to speak up.

She added: "For me that's the biggest shift. The trust is listening and doing something about it."

She said fewer people were now reporting feeling harassed or bullied at work: "All of those trends are starting to go in the right direction."

Director of operations Dominic Gardner said they had introduced a new model of care and practice, focused on staffing, safeguarding and quality, and were getting good feedback.

He said a new healthcare assistant council had produced "gold dust" information, with other groups established.

He said recruitment was still "very much an issue for us", with "challenges" in nursing, but they were seeing growth and had a new two-day induction for new staff.

He added staff were "more observant and inquisitive" with safeguarding and were taking training in human rights and boundaries.

He said: "It's about the service users and the staff who are within that service, rather than trying to satisfy regulatory requirements. That'll come, if we get the other elements of it right."

He said they were making people feel more comfortable with leaders, not moving staff to unfamiliar areas as much, holding wellbeing activities like patient-run circuit sessions, a planned 5K and walks, and reviewing access to electronic devices. 

Associate medical director Mark Speight said the lifting of Covid restrictions helped with patients' opportunities: "We're starting to see the change in that. I think over the next few months and the rest of the year we'll really see an impact."

Cathy Byard, CAHMS speciality clinical director and psychologist, said: "We're still not there. We've still got work to do, but it just feels a little bit like we're getting there. We're in the right direction."

Stockton councillor Evaline Cunningham said she still had concerns but "I was quite encouraged by listening to this. I think it's reassuring that things are going on and I'm pleased to see a lot of the work going on."


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