Stuart Richardson, chief operating officer for Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, explains how the new leadership team roles offer opportunities to develop and implement real system wide change for people with mental health and learning disabilities

Stuart Richardson is registered learning disability nurse and has over 25 years’ experience in the NHS and voluntary sector managing a wide variety of clinical services. Stuart has always been passionate about equality and that of vulnerable people receiving the same level of health care as everyone else.

Stuart came to NSFT in August 2018, relocating from Manchester to Norfolk, to take on the new role of chief operating officer to ensure operational teams had the support and leadership needed to provide safe and effective person-centred care to all service users. Stuart and the executive team are pioneering in making changes in Norfolk and Suffolk regarding mental health transformation.

Why this job?

Our aim is to provide a management structure that will enable the service user experience to be at the heart of everything we do, with local decision making, excellent communication, and the ability for everyone to be involved in shaping and developing the organisation and for individuals to be able to grow their career with us.

Our new model will bring all acute and community services for working age and older adults into a single line place-based management structure. Care groups will work in partnership with their local sustainability and transformation partnership, develop networks and working relationships with clinical commissioning groups, GP practices, local residents and their workforce to shape and develop services that meet with the needs of their local population.

Our model is intended to be an equal coalition of leadership involving four equal partners; placing our service user experience at the centre of anything that we do. Each partner will have specific areas of focus within the care group, managing elements of delivery, with the expectation to work collaboratively with colleagues (as per diagram 1).

Diagram 1

Leadership - jobs diagram

Choosing to join us in one of these roles will give you the opportunity to be integral to changes at a local, trust and system wide level; bettering our services for the needs of our service users across Norfolk and Suffolk.

This model will be supported by a deputy chief operating officer who will lead the care groups, providing leadership management and direction to ensure the successful delivery of the operational services across the organisation, ensuring the provision of effective, high quality, safe patient care which meets the needs of patients and can be met within the allocated budget.

Why this trust?

We’re a trust in need of change, developing our services and teams are the top of our agenda; this is an opportunity to be part of the change. In September 2018, the Care Quality Commission rated our services as continuing to be inadequate which resulted in us remaining in special measures. Some positive practice has been implemented. However, there is universal agreement that our services require substantial and immediate change to ensure we can provide safe and effective services.

We need to implement these changes at pace whilst simultaneously being fully engaged in the system wide discussions that are taking place within our two STPs across Norfolk and Waveney and Suffolk. This is an exciting opportunity to develop and implement real system wide change for people with mental health and learning disabilities, which can provide life changing outcomes and real co-produced service transformation.

For us to address these two agendas we require strong and effective local leadership, which has the autonomy and accountability to provide locally based services, whilst also ensuring that the overarching aims and requirements of NSFT are also met.  Our aim is to ensure that we can provide local leadership, which is clinically led, whilst ensuring best practice evidenced based care is provided consistently across Norfolk and Suffolk.

To support us to do this we’ve got an exciting change agenda, supported by our buddy trust East London Foundation Trust who themselves have had a similar improvement journey.

How will the role advance your career?

Working in collaboration with the local health economy, service users and staff, as part of the care group team you’ll have the opportunity to influence and improve our services locally. The care groups will become an integral part of the community, inviting local stakeholders to discuss mental health needs for the local population and developing our services to meet these needs.

You’ll work collaboratively with different roles and specialisms, developing and providing robust leadership, a team who will be able to make collective local decisions; supporting clear local and clinically led decision making.

We’re working with ELFT to develop a quality improvement agenda, developing a programme of employee engagement and culture change, setting a strengths focused agenda for our teams and reviewing the way we operate across the organisation; there are many opportunities to get involved in new ways of working to develop yourself and your career with us.

To find out more about the role and apply click HSJ Jobs