A letter from Rob Webster - 20 December 2023

Posted on: 20 December 2023

Rob WebsterDear colleagues

Thank you.

Thank you to everyone from NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board who joined me for a conversation on Wednesday 13 December 2023. It was good to see hundreds of you on the call, to discuss the work we are doing across West Yorkshire as an integrated care board.

As we head towards the end of 2023, I want to thank you for the positive difference you have made and for all the work you do. As an organisation, we have five distinct roles within our integrated care system. We have been active in all of them and, although it would be impossible to set out in a short letter all the work you have done, I wanted to share a few headlines.

We deliver:

1. System coordination: a year of industrial action, the worst winter pressures in a generation and financial pressure requiring efficiencies of unprecedented levels has seen us take a critical role. By bringing people together and coordinating activities, we have dealt with incidents and ensured safe and effective services are available. We have also done comparatively well on national standards, with a few exceptions, and used our coordinated voice to agree bespoke approaches on issues like elective recovery funding that better meet West Yorkshire’s needs.

2. Population planning: our refreshed integrated care strategy and joint forward plan set out the actions we will take together. Work in cardiovascular disease (CVD) placed us third highest in the country on cardiovascular prevention; our Health Inequalities Academy and Health Equity Fellows are building capability to change outcomes; our Learning Disability Challenge is improving our approach to people with a learning disability; and local approaches to vulnerable people in each place are targeting populations most at risk.

Crucially, we continue to drive this approach through places (Bradford District and Craven, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield District) on important issues such as suicide prevention and becoming trauma informed. And we are not afraid to tackle hot topics like access to NHS dentistry.

3. Transformation with an array of examples, such as targeted work in Wakefield and Kirklees on vulnerable adults are seeing fewer people admitted to hospital from this group of people; changes to handovers in hospitals through an improvement approach which involves helping to keep ambulances on the road; integrated multi-disciplinary team working in neighbourhoods; improved access to flash glucose monitoring, self- screening tools and other digital enablers; a focus on hospital discharge and flow using evidence to improve the position in places like Leeds; and a genuinely transformational approach to sport, leisure and creativity in meeting people’s needs. These are supported by our Health Innovation Network and our partners. Our approach has been showcased nationally as best practice in a report by Sir Chris Ham (21 November 2023).

4. Delivering the Long-Term Workforce Plan with an array of work seeing us coordinating international recruitment and on-boarding; Project Hope targeting jobs for care leavers; Project Search seeing neurodivergent people supported to enter the workforce and brightening our lives; hyper local recruitment; inclusive recruitment approaches that deliver a 95% retention rate, and work on belonging, staff wellbeing and engagement continuing during this difficult time. Crucially we have worked with universities and all sectors to support this work and set the foundations for the future.

5. Partnership development with a real maturing of our provider collaboratives, especially the Hospice Collaborative and the Community Care Collaborative, alongside the acute (West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts) and the Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism Collaborative. Each of our places have new partnership arrangements, with an increase in roles that are shared across the area, for example in nursing, finance, people management and governance. These evolutions have been in view as we have gone through changes to our operating model structure on the back of 30% running cost targets. We have also brought in new teams to the integrated care board.

I could add so much more and you can watch our end of year film for other examples.

All these things have been delivered with an eye on good governance and good relationships built on shared values. For example, we submitted our integrated care board accounts on time, met our financial and other duties and conducted our annual general meeting. This was all alongside our formal Board/Partnership Board/Place Committee meetings held in public.

We have collaborated on difficult issues such as financial recovery and tackling racism.

I am proud that we are the first Partnership of Sanctuary in the country and when challenged on our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, we restated our commitment and all of the evidence why it is an essential part of what we do.

Looking back, I hope you see how much has been delivered in 2023. I am proud to work here in West Yorkshire and proud to be able to say I am your chief executive.

Next year will be tough. I also know that it will include further improvements and a drive from all of us to be even better for staff, people and communities.

This will require more difficult choices as well as prioritisation of work. That is one of the biggest single messages from the consultation process around our integrated care board operating model programme of work.

We will get through the coming period – through hard work, realism, and a focus on why we are here and what we need to do. This combination of grounded reality and optimism builds hope. As Dr Sohail Abbas, our Integrated Care Board, Deputy Medical Director says in our West Yorkshire dream, “it is hope that will help us achieve these seemingly impossible goals”.

Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating and here is to 2024.


Rob Webster CBE, Chief Executive, NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board CEO Lead for West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership

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