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Bringing innovation to IAPT – Marcus is our NHS Hero

After qualifying in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and making a “now or never” move to work in mental health, Marcus Leonard became increasingly impressed and intrigued by a psychological therapy system which would soon become the most successful and effective in the world.

Marcus, who is originally from Bolton (no likey, no lighty!) and now lives in Standish, Wigan, works as an Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Pan Trust Manager, based across both Dudley and Walsall.

IAPT, more commonly known as talking therapies, began in 2008 and has transformed the treatment of adult anxiety disorders and depression in England.

Marcus’ journey with IAPT began whilst he was studying business studies as a mature student; he completed some psychology modules and ending up switching his course to psychology and philosophy.

“The head of unit at the time invited me to join the talking therapies programme, and after I qualified, I began my career in a medium secure psychiatrist unit, specialising in eating disorders and head injury.

“I observed IAPT with mixed opinions, and I became concerned about how a practitioner could lose their autonomy and therapeutic flare to a business-like machine giving out treatment,” said Marcus.

“This inspired me to put my all into my role, and to come up with creative and innovative ideas to support people with mental health difficulties. I’ve become passionate about making IAPT work and about it being an asset to the Trust and the community.”

The talking therapies team regularly attend events, working closely with mental health charities and promoting the service by being available to those who feel they need support in coping with everyday life.

This year, a short film titled ‘Breaking Point’ was launched on International Men’s Day, which highlights the importance of men speaking out about their mental health, and how feeling better starts with a conversation; whether it be with family, friends or a professional. This message also resonates on Time to Talk Day, which takes place on Thursday 6 February.

Outside of work, Marcus can usually be found riding his favourite motorbike or spending time with his best mate Buddy, his adorable dog.

“Don’t tell the Mrs I said that!” Marcus laughed.

To get away from it all, he loves to travel and tries to holiday most years, as this is something he really enjoys.

Marcus added: “Meeting different cultures and communities is a real treat – I would highly recommend it!”

So who is Marcus’ hero?

“Everyone at DWMH could easily be in this category – particularly the people at Trust HQ who tirelessly support me, with only my humour in return!

If you ever get a chance – spend five minutes with Medical Director, Dr Mark Weaver, he is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met,” he said.

Marcus’ mental health message: “Live kindly – everyone is trying their best, and mistakes are proof that they are trying.”

A clinical unsung hero – Katrina is our NHS Hero

With a determination to create a better life for herself and her children, Katrina Hipkins took the plunge to juggle university and family life, in the hope of becoming a nurse. Now looking back, she realises that all her hard work has paid off.

Now working as a staff nurse at Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (DWMH), Katrina supports people over the age of 65 who are experiencing mental health difficulties. She offers specialist assessment, care and treatment, and is based at Bushey Fields Hospital in Dudley.

“I’ve been a nurse for five years. It’s a job I’m so passionate about, to provide person-centred care with some amazing staff who work alongside me,” said Katrina.

Katrina is a much-loved colleague and friend to everyone on the ward at Bushey Fields, and across the whole Trust. She is known for going the extra mile for patients, and this was highlighted when she won the award for ‘clinical unsung hero’ at DWMH’s Recognising Success Awards in October. The awards which are held annually are an opportunity for staff to nominate their colleagues and show them just how much they are appreciated for the hard work they do.

“It was such a proud moment for me to win an award from the Trust.

“I believe that the little things are really important – I always keep a spare packet of crisps in my pocket for any patient or staff member, to make them smile. It’s something I’m known for now on the ward!” she laughed.

Katrina finds her role really rewarding, and finds that her passion keeps her going even on days which are challenging.

She said: “When people ask me what I do for a living and I say “I’m a nurse”, and then tell them I help patients living with dementia, the first thing they say is ‘I bet that’s a hard job.’

“My role is not always easy, it’s mentally and physically draining – but I love being a nurse, so I can get past any obstacles by knowing that I’m helping people.”

Katrina has had many memorable occasions at work, but holds close to her heart a time that a patient thanked her for something she’d helped them with.

“They were so grateful – I remember shedding a tear at the time because of what they said to me. These are really the things that mean the most to me,” she smiled.

In her spare time, Katrina loves listening to music, running with friends, and going out to new places.

So who is Katrina’s hero?

“My mom and dad. They are both hard-working parents; strong, caring and always there for me. They have seen me at my weakest moments and have been my rocks at the lowest points in my life.”

Katrina’s mental health message: “Be the person you want to be and be proud of who you are. There is always someone to listen to you; it’s much easier to bury your head in the sand than to seek help, but don’t be afraid to talk, it’s the first step and just take each day as it comes.”

Helping people find work

Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust’s Thrive into Work service is inviting the public to an event which will give them another opportunity to hear how the team could help them or someone they know find work.

The service, which was launched last year, supports people with health conditions to find, and more importantly, stay in work and due to popular demand, the Thrive into Work team is holding another jobs fair following a number of successful events held last year.

The event will be an opportunity for people to meet employers with live vacancies available with the support of the Thrive into Work team and pick up some freebies. The event will also include an ‘autism hour’ where the team will be dimming the lights from 10am until 11am for anyone who wants to attend the event and find out information at a quieter time.

The event takes place at the Station Hotel, Dudley, DY1 4RA from 11am until 2.30pm on Tuesday 25 February.

Name of our merged trust

With the year coming to a close and as we look towards new beginnings, we’d like to share the outcome of our vote for the name of our merged trust.

During autumn, we asked staff to choose and now that we have counted in the votes, we thought we would share with you the overwhelming winning choice…

Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

This will be the name we will adopt when our merger completes.

We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped with this process, and we look forward to starting the New Year progressing the next steps of our merger journey.

Find out more visit

CEO appointed for merging trusts

Mark Axcell has been appointed as the Chief Executive of Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust following a recruitment process.

Mark, who is the current Chief Executive at Dudley and Walsall, will take up the joint post at the beginning of January 2020, supporting both trusts through the next phase of their merger plans and beyond.

Jeremy Vanes, Chair of both trusts said: “In Mark we have a leader who will drive us forward as we come together and work towards becoming an outstanding organisation. I look forward to continuing our work with him to help shape the future of the Trust.”

Jeremy continues: “Lesley Writtle current Chief Executive of Black Country Partnership has announced her intention to retire after over 40 years in the NHS. I’d like to express my gratitude and thanks to Lesley for her strong leadership and she will most definitely be missed, and I would like to wish her every success for her retirement.”

On his appointment to the role, Mark Axcell said: “It is with immense pride that I have accepted the position of Chief Executive for the merged Trust.  It’s such an exciting time to be leading the two organisations towards our merger and I look forward to working with all staff and partners to deliver the best possible health care for the communities we serve.”

In December, both trusts submitted the Full Business Case to regulators for the planned merger which will see the creation of one single provider for mental health and learning disability services across the Black Country and community healthcare services for families and children in Dudley.