Mental Health Innovation sponsored by Mental Health Strategies

"We entered the HSJ awards because we thought it was a good chance to showcase something innovative and different," says Paul Sheffield, service manager with the winning team behind Oxfordshire’s integrated primary children’s mental health service.

What Mr Sheffield and his colleagues might not have anticipated however was quite how much interest the success of their jointly commissioned single screening and referral process would generate.

"We were called by a reporter from Radio 4 and asked to take part in a section on the Westminster Hour," says Mr Sheffield. "In the studio, as well the presenter, were a number of politicians and Martin Narey, CEO of Barnardo’s. The theme of the discussion to which we brought an opinion as a model of good practice was how worthwhile it was, or not, for the state to support vulnerable people with mental health issues."

The service has also enjoyed a visit from Professor Louis Appleby, national director for mental health in England and extensive coverage from the local press.

Waiting times for the Oxfordshire service decreased significantly with the scheme’s integration of health, education and social care – a feature thought to be unique – and 90 per cent of children are now being seen within four weeks. Multi-professional teams include social workers, counsellors, teachers, psychiatric nurses, psychologists and health visitors.

"I think the best way to proceed when putting together an entry from a multi-agency project is to have just the one person driving it forward," says Mr Sheffield. "It isn’t the kind of occasion where you should try to get things done by committee."

What judges want

Improving patient access to diagnosis, treatment and care services, including hard to reach groups or patients

Implementing choice at the point of referral

Enhancing the patient experience

Improving clinical outcomes

Increasing public confidence in mental health services

Patient Safety sponsored by the NHS National Patient Safety Agency and the Healthcare Commission

In 2005, with a new board in place and a three-year financial recovery plan under way, chief executive David Loughton took the bold step of putting infection prevention at the top of his list of priorities.

Two years later, with MRSA bacteraemia significantly reduced – from 18 cases in the first quarter of 2006/07 down to just one for the same period in 2007/08 – and the HSJ patient safety category award and the Secretary of State’s award to show for it, his leadership and the determination of everybody at the trust is clearly paying off.

"It was a tough few years for all of us," says Cheryl Etches, director of nursing and midwifery, "and we felt very strongly that getting to the final stages would be a tremendous boost for the whole organisation."

"We wanted to be clear to the staff that even though we were still in recovery the big improvements we were making in reducing MRSA and C Dif contributed, not only to better conditions for patients, but also to the financial and wider well-being of the trust," she adds.

The presence of the chief executive at the presentation to the judges, along with medical director Dr Jonathan Odum and divisional nurse Lynne Fieldhouse, was another indicator of the profile the trust gave to infection prevention.

Ms Etches says: "I am sure that the DVD we produced for the presentation - with personal accounts from different staff of working to tackle MRSA and C Dif – and the strength of the message and outcomes – we saved more than 200 lives - is why we did so well."

What judges want

Analysis of information revealing the problems, and identification of improvements to systems and processes

Evidence of multi-disciplinary working, including learning and sharing across teams, specialties and care settings (e.g. health and social care)

Evaluation or plan for evaluation to demonstrate sustainability over time

Patient involvement

Successful implementation of an incident reporting system, which has led to significant change to the design and delivery of a service to improve patient safety; or successful implementation of a structured approach to incident investigation using a retrospective technique such as root cause analysis or significant event audit.

Staff involvement and buy-in at all levels, with everyone understanding the goal