16 September 2020

This year has been dominated by the COVID Public Health Emergency and our response to it.  I would like to start by offering a huge thank you to our staff who responded so selflessly and so magnificently to the Emergency. CNWL is its staff and you have made us all very proud.

We sent a card to every member of staff, some of whom didn’t see their families for weeks, the card said

‘You answered the call so patients could be cared for. It was a worrying and frightening time but you served; every contribution made the NHS workforce an inspiration and you created a particle of that. This should hold a place of pride in your cvs, as lasting testimony to your dedication to others and the humanity you showed when the summons was made. On behalf of the Board of Directors , thank you, you deserve a medal.’

Our priorities in the first wave were to look after our patients and service users; to look after our staff and their health and wellbeing, and to support and contribute to the local NHS systems of which we are a part. To do this we had to stand down some services and reallocate staff to other services with greater immediate need; we had to identify and implement new ways of working with our service users and patients; we had the logistical challenges of resourcing and distributing vast amounts of PPE across our enormous geography, and we had to address the very real fears of some of our staff for their own wellbeing. We will show a film later about all that we did.

The Emergency is not, of course, over and we are now preparing for a second wave taking into account all the lessons we learnt from the first wave. The way we work will never return to pre COVID ways: we hope that our post COVID world will be even more local, even faster, even more responsive, more digital for those who prefer it and offering more choice for everyone.

Nor did our services stand still during and because of COVID. We have, for example, recently opened, in collaboration with the Third Sector some Crisis Cafes called The Coves as an additional resource for people in crisis to go to. We are an early implementer of a new model of mental health community care bringing it closer to GP practices in Harrow and Westminster. In Milton Keynes we established the Integrated Community Support Team which is a multidisciplinary team of nurses, co-ordinators and social care assistants based in GP practices and which works with individuals to find personalised ways to remove barriers to their wellbeing. An evaluation showed that this work reduced A and E attendance by 61% and emergency admissions by 57%. And we have welcomed Feltham YOI into the CNWL family.

To help support staff moving forward Ade Odunlade, the Managing Director of our Jameson Division and Ryan Kemp, our Director of Therapies have, together with Bucks New University, produced a book Coping with Fear. It is both personal and academic and includes introductions from both Robyn Doran, our Chief operating Officer and Claire Murdoch and CEO.

As well as our colleagues and a leading carer we should not forget that many of us lost family and friends to COVID and many of us got the virus ourselves. It has been a period like no other.

Turning to our wider environment the NHS is being reorganised into regional groupings which will provide much more integration between providers and, hopefully, a much more joined up experience for service uses and patients. Given our geography we are members of three of these Integrated Care Systems as they are called: in Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes, in North West London and in North Central London. We are playing an active role in the formation of each of these and see much to benefit our patients and service users in the closer partnership of health and social care providers. But within each ICS let me assure you that we will remain local so there will be a strong continuing emphasis on local, Borough based, population needs via CNWL Brent, CNWL Milton Keynes, CNWL Camden, CNWL Surrey. CNWL wherever we are.

The CQC continue to monitor us, we continue to receive positive feedback and we retain our rating of Good. Our Annual Report provides more detail on this. But we continue to strive to improve what we do, to identify areas for improvement and to implement best and better practice wherever we can. We will never rest.

Related to this our Quality Improvement initiative continues to grow and develop. More and more projects now involve service users and patients and we are very grateful to all of you who have contributed your time and energy to QI projects.


We have continued to build our staff networks over the past year. We are proud that CNWL has again been rated as the most LGBT+ friendly healthcare organisation to work for by Stonewall and we were placed 16th in their Top 100 Index, up from 28th last year. We have also been working very closely with our BAME network. COVID has affected BAME people disproportionally and rightly our BAME staff have felt particularly vulnerable. We have undertaken individual risk assessments with almost all our staff, prioritising our BAME staff, in order to provide them with work environments where they feel safe.   The Trust stood with those protesting about the killing of George Floyd. We were one of the first NHS organisations so to do, as our Chief Exec Claire Murdoch said ’It may seem old fashioned, but an injury to one is an injury to all’.

On a wider note BAME staff are still under-represented at senior levels in the Trust, are still more likely to be subject to disciplinary procedures, are still more likely to report experiencing bullying and still less likely to get the jobs they apply for.  As Stephen Frost says ‘Diversity is a fact, Inclusion is a choice’ and the challenge for CNWL is to make our culture more inclusive. This is a priority for the forthcoming year. We will continue to work with all of our networks to make Inclusion more of a CNWL reality. And I would like to thank all our networks for their work this year: BAME, LGBT+, Women, Disability, LEMH, Carers, 50+. You are teaching us so much.

Last year we launched our increased work with volunteers. The COVID emergency rapidly accelerated this work and 200 volunteers have supported the Trust doing all sorts of activities such as delivering medicines to vulnerable patients, working in our ‘check and chat’ service, supporting the use of I pads to keep people in touch and many, many other tasks. A huge thank you to all our volunteers …you are a wonderful people who have enriched us with your energy and enthusiasm and we want to work much more with you all.

Let me end with some personal thanks: first to my NED colleagues for the challenge and support you have provided to the Exec team and to myself. Thank you. And to the Execs who have all been pillars of strength in leading the Trust through this most difficult of years. Thank you.

And to finish, as ever, with my thanks to our Governors. CNWL Governors are very special: you work extremely hard and you have carried on with your work and feedback throughout the COVID emergency despite the challenges of zoom and teams.  I/we can’t thank you enough and I really really mean that.

Thank you