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Healthier Futures - News & Publications

United support for Breastfeeding Week

Infant Feeding teams and midwives across the Black Country and West Birmingham will be supporting and encouraging mums this National Breastfeeding Week which runs from Monday 27 June until Friday 1 July.

This year’s theme is “Everyone has a part to play in helping mums to breastfeed” with a focus on the difference that can be made if everyone supports breastfeeding. And the Black Country and West Birmingham Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS) is highlighting the help that is available for mums-to-be and new mums who want to breastfeed.

Sally Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer Designate for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care System, said: “Breastfeeding is a natural way to nurture babies and breast milk not only gives them antibodies to strengthen their immunity to viruses and bacteria it also provides a beautiful bonding experience for mum and baby.

“Breastfeeding Week gives us an opportunity to show our collective support for mums who breastfeed – particularly for those who may struggle and need extra encouragement in their breastfeeding journey.”

Lisa Williams, specialist midwife infant feeding at The Dudley Group Foundation Trust, said: “Breastfeeding Week is so important and gives us the opportunity to promote and celebrate breastfeeding in our local area and with staff.

“As an infant feeding team we are dedicated to supporting women and their families to achieve their breastfeeding goals and the journey they aspire to and want to achieve. We are proud to work in a Baby Friendly accredited Trust and offer specialist and experienced peer support.”

Louise Thompson, Infant Feeding Team Co-ordinator at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, said: “Many mums will say to us things like 'a family member told me breastfeeding didn't matter, but it did matter to me'.

“This Breastfeeding Week we would like to encourage everyone to support women to reach their feeding goals whatever they might be. Friends, family and professionals can help by encouraging mums to access local feeding support groups, especially when things are tough. Also, what really helps is telling the mum she's doing a great job.”

Meg Schubert, Infant Feeding Specialist Midwife at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We want mums to feel just as loved, safe and happy as they make their babies feel and Breastfeeding Week gives us all a chance to show our support.

“As well as our infant feeding teams in the hospital and community, mums need to know their families and wider communities are there for them. Breastfeeding can be a lovely experience and mums should feel confident that we’re all here to help them along the way – through the good times and the difficult times.”

Samantha Ball, Infant Feeding Specialist Midwife at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said: “Breastfeeding Week is so important to acknowledge and celebrate as it highlights the importance of supporting mothers with feeding their babies, as well as increasing the awareness of breastfeeding within the wider community.

“Breastfeeding Week also raises the profile of the different methods of support a woman can access within her local maternity and health visiting services, in order to help her achieve her own breastfeeding goals.”

The LMNS brings together all those who are involved in providing and organising maternity care such as midwives, obstetricians, service users, neonatal staff, managers, commissioners, public health, educators, perinatal mental health providers and GPs. It is working to ensure services respond to the challenge set out nationally in Better Births to become more personalised and more responsive.

LMNS Montage v3

Mental health and learning disability chief confirmed to lead new NHS Board

Respected local NHS leader Mark Axcell has been formally appointed as substantive Chief Executive Officer for the Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB). 

Following a successful recruitment process, Mr Axcell, who has held the position on an interim basis since November, will now officially become CEO on 1 July when the new NHS organisation launches.  

Mr Axcell joins the ICB from his previous role as Chief Executive of Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, the local mental health and learning disabilities trust, and brings with him more than 25 years of NHS experience. 

Jonathan Fellows, Chair Designate of the ICB, led the CEO recruitment process. He said: “I am delighted to announce that Mark Axcell, who has already played a pivotal role in preparing for the launch of the ICB in July, will be staying with us to lead the new organisation. 

“Mark has been a phenomenal source of support not only to Black Country and West Birmingham CCG as it prepares for the exciting transition to becoming an ICB, but also to partners across the wider health and care system. 

“As well as bringing 25 years of experience and a true passion for health equality to the role, Mark has been working to assemble a talented and diverse ICB leadership team. I very much look forward to working with Mark and his team as we strive to deliver the best possible health outcomes for local people.” 

Following Royal Assent of the Health and Care Bill 2021, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will become Integrated Care Boards from 1 July. These will sit at the heart of Integrated Care Partnerships, which will bring together partners including health and care providers, public health, charities and businesses, to address the wide range of factors that affect local people’s health. 

Mr Axcell said: “During my time as Interim CEO Designate of the ICB, I have been truly impressed and inspired by the hard work of health and care staff across the Black Country and the shared dedication across the system to helping local people live healthier, happier lives. 

“I am delighted to have been appointed to the role of CEO and I look forward to working with partners to build on the great progress that has already been made in improving the health and wellbeing of our communities. 

“I feel strongly that by working together, we can make a real difference in reducing health inequalities and delivering the best possible services to people in the Black Country.” 

Mr Axcell has already assembled most of his ICB leadership team, with only the post of Chief Equalities and Innovation Officer still to be recruited to. More information about all the leadership roles and the people behind them, can be found here

Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which holds a “good” rating from the Care Quality Commission, will begin the process of recruiting a permanent CEO shortly. 

Jeremy Vanes, Chair at Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, commented: “Mark led the successful merger of two organisations to create Black Country Healthcare, and in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. His experience and positive contribution to partnership working is now fully recognised across our region, and his appointment solidly confirms this appreciation.  

“Mark has been an exceptional first CEO for Black Country Healthcare and we look forward to the further evolution of the new partnership arrangements that will transform health and care services across the Black Country." 

Healthcare professionals encouraged to return to practice

A special online event will be taking place in June for nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs) looking to return to practice.

The Return to Practice Programme is for qualified nurses or AHPs who are no longer registered and wish to return to work. Those eligible must have been off the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register for more than two years, or must not have registered within five years from the date of their qualification.

Hosted by The Black Country Allied Health Professionals and Nursing Faculty, the event will be held on Tuesday 14 June, 10.45am-12.15pm, and will advise people how to return to practice and the process of applying for a new role within the Black Country.

The event will give attendees the chance to hear from speakers from Health Education England (HEE), as well as stories and experiences from professionals who have returned to practice.

Beverley Matthews renewed her nursing qualification in 2017 through the Return to Practice course and will be sharing her experience at the event.

She said: “Despite having let my registration lapse for 10 years, being a nurse has always been part of my identity. In September 2017 I started the Return to Practice course at Birmingham City University and was lucky enough to do my clinical placement where my career started at Russells Hall Hospital. There was a lot to learn as things had changed since I last worked on a ward as a nurse but the staff I worked with were brilliant.

“Doing my Return to Practice was absolutely the best decision, and has given me the opportunity to reconnect with my passion. I would recommend everyone whose registration has lapsed to find out more about the Return to Practice opportunities available at the online event.

“I would also encourage anyone who is currently on the register but hasn’t done any clinical work recently to think about this course, as it not only gives you current clinical knowledge and skills, it also gives you confidence.”

Alan Duffell, Chief People Officer for the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Workforce Lead for the Black Country and West Birmingham Integrated Care System, Healthier Futures, said: “Experienced health care professionals have so much to offer patients, employers and society, and there’s never been a better time do it.

“The Return to Practice programme is there for nurses and AHPs who have decided to take some time away from the profession, whether that’s to pursue a different career, a change in lifestyle or to retire, and want to come back.

“The event is a great way for people to find out whether returning to practice is suitable for them, hear from others who have experienced the programme first hand and to find out about the different roles available across the area.  

“So, if you’re a nurse or AHP and thinking of coming back to the profession, or know someone who is, we’d love to see you there.”

The event will be held virtually on Microsoft Teams, and places can be booked by registering at the Eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/black-country-ahp-nursing-faculty-return-to-practice-webinar-tickets-342786723317

Chief People Officer appointed to future NHS Board

A Chief People Officer has been appointed to the executive team for the new Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB).

Mrs Shajeda Ahmed will take up the role once the ICB formally begins operation, moving to the Black Country from her current role as Executive Director of People, Organisational Development and Inclusion for North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust.

As Chief People Officer, she will be responsible for all aspects of staff recruitment, training and wellbeing for the ICB, as well as providing strategic leadership on workforce for the wider Black Country health and care system, with a particular focus on diversity and inclusion.

Mrs Ahmed said: “I am delighted to have been offered the role of Chief People Officer for the Black Country. Throughout my time in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent I have been privileged to work with some amazing colleagues and I hope to bring all my learning with me to this new role.

“I have a particular passion for inclusion as I believe a diverse workforce leads to better decision making, increased innovation and ultimately improved care for those we serve.”

The latest appointment brings the new NHS leadership team closer to completion, with Mrs Ahmed joining the already-appointed Designates, being the Chief Operating Officer, Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Finance Officer on the board of the ICB.

Mr Mark Axcell, interim Chief Executive Designate of the ICB, said: “I am delighted to confirm the appointment of Shajeda Ahmed as our Chief People Officer, a pivotal role in our new leadership team.

“Under Shajeda’s leadership, we will make the Black Country the best place to work – as we know that a happy, engaged and productive workforce is a crucial first step to providing first class services that are well placed to tackle health inequalities and deliver a healthier future for local people.”

Work to recruit a substantive Chief Executive Officer and a new Chief Equalities and Innovation Officer for the ICB is ongoing.

Information about all the ICB leadership roles can be found here.

About the new Chief People Officer:

Shajeda Ahmed has used her expertise and people management experience of over 20 years in both public and private sectors, to progress to her current position as our Chief People Officer. Shajeda joins the Black Country from her role as Executive Director of People, OD and Inclusion for North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare, where under Shajeda’s direction, the people team earned national recognition for their work.

As an advocate for cultural transformation and inclusivity, Shajeda will lead the people plan for the Integrated Care System with the aim of making the Black Country the best place to work.

Shajeda has a particular passion and insight to share on the subject of inclusion. A diverse workforce leads to better decision making and increased innovation which enables all of us to improve the care that we provide from wherever we work. This has been informed by her belief that everyone should have the same opportunities and be treated fairly and equally, recognising and accepting difference as a dynamic to be celebrated and a skill to be harnessed, something to be proud of. A Chief People Officer has been appointed to the executive team for the new Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB).

In The News

  • United support for Breastfeeding Week

    Infant Feeding teams and midwives across the Black Country and West Birmingham will be supporting and encouraging mums this National Breastfeeding Week which runs from Monday 27 June until Friday 1 July. This year’s theme is “Everyone has a part to play in helping mums to breastfeed” with a focus on the difference that can be made if everyone supports breastfeeding. And the Black Country and West Birmingham Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS) is highlighting the help that is available fo...
  • Mental health and learning disability chief confirmed to lead new NHS Board

    Respected local NHS leader Mark Axcell has been formally appointed as substantive Chief Executive Officer for the Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB).  Following a successful recruitment process, Mr Axcell, who has held the position on an interim basis since November, will now officially become CEO on 1 July when the new NHS organisation launches.   Mr Axcell joins the ICB from his previous role as Chief Executive of Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, the local...
  • Healthcare professionals encouraged to return to practice

    A special online event will be taking place in June for nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs) looking to return to practice. The Return to Practice Programme is for qualified nurses or AHPs who are no longer registered and wish to return to work. Those eligible must have been off the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register for more than two years, or must not have registered within five years from the date of their qualification. Hoste...
  • Chief People Officer appointed to future NHS Board

    A Chief People Officer has been appointed to the executive team for the new Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB). Mrs Shajeda Ahmed will take up the role once the ICB formally begins operation, moving to the Black Country from her current role as Executive Director of People, Organisational Development and Inclusion for North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust. As Chief People Officer, she will be responsible for all aspects of staff recruitment, training and wellbeing for the IC...
  • Putting our fantastic midwives in the spotlight

    Today (5 May) is International Day of the Midwife and the Black Country and West Birmingham Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS) wants to thank those who make a difference to families across our communities. Sally Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer for NHS Black Country and West Birmingham CCG, said: “How fantastic that we can make today all about our wonderful midwives. “Once again, we find ourselves talking about another difficult year for them as they have supported mums-to-be a...
  • New appointment to future NHS Board

    The leadership team for the new Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB) continues to take shape with the appointment of a new executive. The ICB, which will begin operation on 1 July 2022, has successfully appointed to the role of Chief Operating Officer.   The news follows last week’s announcement that the NHS had gone out to advert for a substantive Chief Executive Officer to lead the ICB. The role of Chief Operating Officer will be held by Mr Matthew Hartland, who is currently ...
  • More than 2.6 million COVID-19 vaccines delivered

    Since the start of the vaccination roll-out, more than 2.6 million vaccines have been administered in the Black Country and West Birmingham. More than 980,000 people have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, with almost 690,000 taking up at least three doses.   The spring booster programme is also continuing at pace, with almost 47,000 eligible people vaccinated since March. Those eligible for a spring booster include care home residents, people who are 75 and over and those age...
  • Signs and symptoms of asthma

    This World Asthma Day (Tuesday 3 May), health chiefs in the Black Country and West Birmingham are raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of asthma. World Asthma Day is organised by the Global Initiative for asthma, which aims to improve asthma awareness and care. Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties. It affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood, although it can also develop for the first time in adults. The main symptoms are a whi...
  • NHS seeks to appoint leader to top system role

    The NHS has today gone out to advert for a substantive Chief Executive Officer to lead the new Black Country Integrated Care Board and play a pivotal role within the local health and care system. Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) are partnerships of health and care organisations, local government and the voluntary sector. These partnerships aim to meet health and care needs, coordinate services and plan in a way that improves the health of local people and reduces inequalities between different gr...
  • Local NHS leaders reflect on COVID-19 pandemic

    Two years on from the first UK lockdown, health chiefs across the Black Country and West Birmingham have paid tribute to staff and members of the public. The declaration of the pandemic was made by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in January 2020 and the UK went into full lockdown on Monday 23 March 2020. Since then, health and care staff from across the NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector have worked in partnership to provide services and support communities, as well as standin...