Last week, to coincide with World Mental Health Day, over 40 experts from Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) and Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SABP) came together every day to plan how services can improve now and in the future. Read this joint blog in which SASH chief executive Michael Wilson CBE and SABP chief executive Fiona Edwards share their reflections:


We want all of the people who rely on our services to know they can always get the best possible support when they need us.

We’re really proud of how our teams already work together to make that possible, but we are really ambitious about continuously improving the support available.

Partnership working is so fundamental to this, and that’s why we’ve teamed up to make exciting plans together. Last week saw our first joint integrated care improvement and visioning event and it left everyone so optimistic about the future.

We know everyone is working so hard in the face of the continued challenges that COVID-19 brings, but this area is such a priority for both our organisations that we didn’t want to miss this opportunity come together. Despite the current challenges, over 40 people came together every day over five days. It is a testament to everyone involved that enthusiasm and energy were not dampened by holding the event virtually.

During the event, using SASH+ methodologies developed as part of SASH’s partnership with Virginia Mason Institute, we looked at how we can improve and integrate our services both now and in the longer term.

We looked at three areas of focus, known as value streams:

  1. Patients who require mental health support when they present in the emergency department
  2. Patients who require mental health support while on an acute ward run by SASH
  3. SABP inpatients who have physical healthcare needs that require assessment or treatment.

In all three we had the voice of those who use our services, carers, and the right people from our respective teams. Getting these people together to look in detail at how we want things to be meant nearly 200 ideas for improvement were generated.

A number of consistent themes shone through, like making sure we have the best possible environment to help people feel safe and calm. We also recognised the importance of joint training and support in everything we do. Crucially, at the heart of everything we agreed that working together on these things was absolutely the best thing to do for staff and for patients.

We identified lots of quick wins that we can look to sort out straight away, like making it easier for colleagues to prescribe medication when working with each other. Some of our solutions will take a bit more time, so each value stream now has an action plan that we can assess progress against regularly over the next few weeks.

People from across our organisations work really well together already, but last week we heard a real desire to make ambitious improvements to ensure consistently excellent integrated care is a reality. Everyone shared an absolute commitment to put patients and service users at the centre of care, and that’s what makes this work so worthwhile. We are very grateful to all involved and genuinely excited for the future.

Michael Wilson CBE, chief executive, SASH

Fiona Edwards, chief executive, SABP