2015 was a tremendous year of change and achievement for our staff, service users, carers, Governors and volunteers. Our biggest achievement happened on 1st April when we welcomed 1,300 new staff in one day, increasing the size of the workforce by a third and increasing the population we serve from 750,000 to 1,380,000.
2015 culminated in November’s HSJ Awards, when we were shortlisted for four hotly contested, national gongs and won the staff engagement award. And our own Staff Awards honoured the work of our staff. Of course, it has not always been easy. Striving to be the best never is, but I am justly proud of the determination, passion and triumphs of all members of our extended team.
2016 will present its’ own challenges. We are all preparing for a full scale CQC inspection to happen in June. I have been impressed by how staff are embracing this visit as an opportunity to reflect on how we can further improve our services, mainstreaming the improvements that they are identifying.
2016 will continue to be a period of change for the NHS. Economic challenges continue. Whilst ELFT has continued to be able to balance its books, we all know that this is becoming more difficult. One of the ways we can address this is to try new ways of working particularly in providing integrated care and working across geographies. Across each of our local authority areas, we are working with other organisations to provide integrated care whether this is through a vanguard, devolution pilot or multi partnership arrangement, we are striving to ensure a holistic, patient centred and efficient approach to delivering services.
And finally, Dr Robert Dolan, our Chief Executive of 10 years, has announced his intention to retire in June. The transformation of ELFT and its nationally recognised achievements are due to Robert's drive, ambition and ability to inspire the best from those around him. His will truly be a hard act to follow but we have planned an open and robust recruitment process, in partnership with an external agency, to ensure that we seek out an able and ambitious successor who can build on Robert's legacy. It appears that 2016 will be another year of change and I look forward to working with you to make it a year of successes.