We are delighted to announce that the AHP team at Hallam Street Hospital have received a donation of £1,000 from the West Bromwich Building Society to help them develop Hallam Street's Therapy garden! 

Throughout lockdown, the garden provides a unique approach to mental health care and physical wellbeing. The area has had a positive, calming effect on both the staff and patients at Hallam, and the team have used the tranquil space for socially-distanced gardening activities such as rock painting, 1:1 sessions, and growing vegetables. The harvested produce from the garden has also been used to make and cook dishes to celebrate Black History Month. The team have done this yearly, and this year they plan to do 1:1 cultural cooking sessions!


Regarding the impact of the greenspace, Occupational Therapist Denise Davies states: "The green space has been used for patients to relax and reflect. I myself have used this area of green space to continue with my 1:1 WRAP session with a patient due to its tranquillity."


Ruth Packer, Occupational Therapy Technical Instructor says this: "Since the Covid-19 crisis, as a team of Physios and Occupational Therapy staff, we have become really aware how invaluable our local outdoor greenspaces are, and for me in particular, discovering the hidden treasure of Hallam Street: The Therapy Garden!"


"This has been an invaluable resource for continuing to provide therapeutic engagements with clients in a Covid-safe and person-centred way."


A massive thank you to The West Bromwich Building Society and The Anglian Trust for this kind, generous donation - we look forward to using these funds to enhance our green space for future positive mental health activities and develop more outdoor mindfulness resources across the Black Country.

Thank you to the 100 participants that joined our 'let's get talking about mental health' webinar on Friday 9 October to celebrate World Mental Health Day (10 October).

If you missed it, why not listen to our audio only version and hear the powerful messages and inspirational stories that were shared. You can also view the Powerpoint slides here

If you would like to hear about future events and how you can get involved in our Trust, please contact Erica Pearce in our membership office on 0121 612 8061 or email bchft.membership@nhs.net

Walsall Council has launched a comprehensive residents’ survey designed to provide vital insight into how COVID-19 has impacted the lives of people in the borough.

Called the ‘residents’ experience and wellbeing survey’, it covers everything from health, work and finances to volunteering, contact with the council and COVID-19 related communications - the survey is a key piece of research and everyone is encouraged to respond.

10,000 questionnaires have been posted to a random sample of households and the survey is available online for any Walsall resident aged 16+ to complete at: www.walsall.gov.uk/covid-19_residents_survey. The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Results will be used to inform the council’s COVID-19 reset and recovery plans, as well as aspects of future service delivery. The closing date is 1 November and results will be available in December.

Last week, Sandwell’s Domestic Abuse Strategic Partnership took in Safer 6: Domestic Abuse Week as part of the six-week Safer Sandwell Partnership campaign. Partnership organisations continue to operate, providing safety advice and emotional support to those at risk.

Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

The Partnership is once again sharing Tina’s story (www.sandwell.gov.uk/tinasstory) which Tina’s sister made to help other families. Tina was murdered by her partner in 2017. Her partner had subjected her to years of abuse and controlling behaviour. He was jailed for life for a minimum of 24 years for her murder.

How do you know if this is happening to you?

Some common examples of coercive behaviour are:

  • Isolating you from friends and family.
  • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food.
  • Monitoring your time.
  • Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware.
  • Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep.
  • Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services.
  • Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless.
  • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you.
  • Controlling your finances.
  • Making threats or intimidating you.

Councillor Farut Shaeen, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for living healthy lives, said: “Domestic abuse is never acceptable in any circumstance but it is perhaps even more terrifying for victims when they are living in such close proximity to the perpetrators. Please be assured that victims of domestic abuse are an absolute priority for the Police and support agencies."

Sandwell Council Deputy Leader Councillor Maria Crompton said: "Restrictions are in place to save lives and protect the NHS during the current coronavirus pandemic.

"But we are only too aware that not every home is a safe one and during this period, there is a heightened risk of domestic abuse. If anyone is experiencing domestic abuse or is at risk then help is here.

"Sandwell Council and our partner organisations are continuing to provide critical services to our residents when they need them most."

Useful contacts

Black Country Women’s Aid can provide support to victims of domestic abuse. 

  • Call the 24-hour helpline on 0121 552 6448.
  • Text or WhatsApp on 07384 466 181 (9am – 9pm Monday – Friday).
  • www.blackcountrywomensaid.co.uk.
  • Call 999 in an emergency.
  • If you are worried about your behaviour towards others, call the Respect Helpline on 0808 802 4040.

For more information visit www.sandwell.gov.uk/domesticabuse

The people working across health to support those with learning disabilities and autism are changing the way they work.

On 1 October, learning disability commissioners, case managers and programme management staff transferred to Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust working towards a new operating model for learning disability and autism services across the Black Country.

Positive collaboration between the clinical commissioning groups and the Trust has already resulted in different and innovative ways of working bringing many benefits for people with learning disabilities and/or autism.

Improved pathways, enhanced coordination of care and strengthened joint working across the system are just some of the benefits of this move, which has seen a small number of commissioning staff move to the Trust to sit alongside those providing the service.

Mark Axcell, Chief Executive of Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust commented: “I am delighted to welcome colleagues who have recently joined us supporting our work to transform care for people with learning disabilities and/or autism. This important move takes us one step closer to developing a more collaborative model for mental health, learning disability and autism services across the region. More importantly, it will enable us to continue improving peoples’ experiences and ensure that care is focused on keeping individuals healthy, well and supported in their local community.”

Jonathan Fellows, Independent Chair, Black Country and West Birmingham STP said: “Increasing collaboration and ensuring that those working across our system are focussed on the needs of the people we serve, is a priority for us. By removing organisational boundaries and forming a single team we are confident that we will be best placed to deliver better support for those living with Learning Disabilities and Autism in the Black Country.”

Hilary Stanfield (72) from West Bromwich is celebrating 50 years working in the NHS today – all of them spent working in the catering team at Heath Lane Hospital – where she still works six days a week as a catering supervisor.

Hilary’s NHS journey began as a 22 year old – when she joined the hospital as a catering assistant – a role that she took over from her mum.

“My mother already worked at Heath Lane as a catering assistant,” explains Hilary.

“But when she was offered the role of cook, I was able to take on her assistant job.”

As you can imagine, Hilary has seen many changes during her half-century in the NHS – including the purpose of the building she continues to work in.

“When I first started, Heath Lane was a chest and geriatric hospital. After that, the chest element was moved to the new Sandwell General Hospital, but the geriatrics remained.

“In those days, I used to head down to the wards each day to ask the patients what they wanted for their meals the next day. I always used to enjoy these visits – the patients would really bring a smile to my face – although it would often take me a while to do the rounds as I would be asked to pass a handbag or a pair of slippers – I didn’t mind though – I was always happy to help the patients.”

The hospital is now run by Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and cares for people with learning disabilities and mental health illness  – and although she doesn’t have as much contact with patients as she used to, Hilary still enjoys being able to make a difference.

“I am now the catering supervisor,” said Hilary

“I don’t have the day to day interaction with patients that I did in the years gone by, but I still love coming to work every day – it is a joy to work in the NHS and I take great pride in providing meals for both the patients and the staff.”

One of the biggest changes that Hilary has witnessed is the digital revolution the NHS has gone through over the years.

“When I started, everything was done with pen and paper – I’ve struggled a little bit with all these computer systems,” she laughs.

“But I am getting there and can definitely see the benefit.”

Hilary says this year has been particularly challenging with the Covid-19 Pandemic, but the spirit between the staff at the hospital as always remained high.

“It’s definitely been hard work over the last six months, but we have adapted extremely well to the changes that have been put in place and I am so proud that we have been able to continue to provide patients and staff with meals they enjoy.”

One of the hardest aspects of the Pandemic has been the closure of the hospital to visitors. Hilary tells the story of being on the ward stocking up the store cupboard when a young patient with learning disabilities came up to her and was really upset as his mum wouldn’t be able to attend on Mothers’ Day which was on the forthcoming Sunday.

“He was so upset that it broke my heart,” said Hilary.

“I asked him if he wanted me to come and see him on Sunday and he replied yes please. I did think he might have forgotten, but when I turned up to see him – his face lit-up and the staff told me I made his day.

“It was only a simple thing – but sometimes it’s the simple thing that make the biggest difference.”

Hilary is an incredibly valued member of the Trust and highly thought of by her team – in fact – two years ago, the café at Heath Lane Hospital was renamed ‘Hilary’s’ in honour of her incredible service.

Jay Patel, Site Facilities Coordinator for Black Country Healthcare said: “We are so proud to have Hilary as part of our team at Black Country Healthcare – she will always go that extra mile for her team and most importantly for her patients.

“Her attendance record is outstanding – and most importantly her always has a smile on her face at work.”

Chief Executive, Mark Axcell added: “On behalf of the Board, I would like to congratulate Hilary on her incredible service.

“Everyone speaks so highly of her and I am delighted that she continues to enjoy working here at Black Country Healthcare.”

It’s World Mental Health Day on the 10 October and to get people talking about mental health and why everyone’s mental health matters, we are hosting a free webinar the day before on Zoom for anyone to attend.

Date:                  Friday 9 October

Time:                 1pm until 2.30pm

Joining details: Join the webinar by clicking here

                           Meeting ID: 917 7098 8410 Passcode: viqJ10

It promises to be an interesting and informative session where you can hear about a mental health journey within our children’s services, adults and older adults from a clinical and experts by experience perspective. Attendees will also get to hear about how we can all look after our wellbeing as well as find out what support there is available in our community. 

There is no need to register, just join us on Zoom by using the above link or joining details.

As with all years, in 2021 we will be taking part in the national Community Mental Health Survey. The Trust will be working in collaboration with the Survey Coordination Centre to gather responses from a sample of services users who accessed our community mental health services between September and November 2020. As with all feedback we gain, your responses will be used to improve services whilst ensuring that the service user voice is at the centre of these developments. If however you wish to opt out of the survey, please contact:

  • 0300 555 0535
  • SED.bchft@nhs.net
  • Delta House, Delta Point, Greets Green Road, West Bromwich, B70 9PL

In view of the COVID19 outbreak, members of the public are invited to attend the Trust's Virtual Public Meeting. If you would like to accept this invitation, please click on the link here to access the meeting. If you have any queries, please contact Natalie Grainger at natalie.grainger@nhs.net.

Members of the public and press are also encouraged to submit questions on the public agenda attached by 29th September 2020 to the Trust’s Company Secretary Gilbert George at gilbert.george5@nhs.net.

The Sanctuary Hub is a safe place where you can access support outside of usual mental health service hours.

Feeling unable to cope, lonely or isolated? If you are feeling overwhelmed and distressed and don't know where to turn to get mental health support, is your usual source of support closed? Contact The Sanctuary Hub.

You will get support from a dedicated team of mental health recovery workers who are friendly, warm, enthusiastic, reliable, and responsive to your individual needs.

Monday to Friday, 6pm - 11pm

Saturday and Sunday, 12pm - 11pm

To access support from the team, freephone 0808 802 2288 or text 07860 065 168.

We have been made aware of a scam where members of the public are being called from someone claiming to work for NHS Test and Trace.

They will say that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, but won't tell you who it is. They then advise that you need to self-isolate for seven days and take a test within the next 72 hours.

They request a mailing address to send the testing kit to, and say there is a one-off fee of £50.00 which includes results - they then ask for bank details.

Please do not hand over these details - testing and results are free, and Test and Trace will never ask for this information.

To find out more about NHS Test and Trace, please click here.

Our Trust has welcomed two new non-executive directors to its board.

Alison Geeson and Shaukat Ali have been appointed following a recent recruitment process.

ALISON GEESON NED PHOTO X 1.jpgAlison is a Senior Lecturer of Nursing at the University of Wolverhampton and has extensive experience within nursing and education field. Alison’s nursing career spans 29 years within the NHS and prior to entering into Higher Education in 2012, she worked as a Head of Nursing within a mental health care provider organisation.




Shaukat Ali 2.jpgShaukat has over 27 years’ experience of working in health, local authority and voluntary sector organisations. Currently shadow cabinet member for Public Health and Adult Social Care at Dudley Council, Shaukat is looking forward to working with colleagues to ensure patients, carers and families receive outstanding care and is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of people across the Black Country.




Jeremy Vanes, Chair of Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said “I am delighted to welcome both Alison and Shaukat to our team at Black Country Healthcare. They have a lot of expertise and experience and we look forward to working with them so we can further improve mental health, learning disability and family healthcare services for our local communities”.

Both Alison and Shaukat have been appointed on a three year term.

We are delighted to announce that our Trust’s Cultural Ambassador programme has won the People & Organisational Development Initiative of the Year category at the HSJ Value Awards 2020!

Facilitated by HR Business Partners Tara Conlan and Emma Barnes and in partnership with the RCN, the Cultural Ambassador programme is an opportunity to make a difference and challenge any unconscious bias and discrimination that may occur for those BAME employees entering or during formal HR processes. The judges felt that this project was one of the most important ways to make a difference to staff experience. They were impressed by the truly data-driven ambition, the good signs shown so far in terms of outcomes and overall excellent value driven.

We are absolutely ecstatic that their hard work and partnership work has received the recognition it justly deserves, and you can watch their winning HSJ entry here! Once again, a massive congratulations to everyone involved and we look forward to seeing this fantastic project blossom in the future!

In view of the COVID19 outbreak, members of the public are invited to attend the Trust's Virtual Public Meeting on Wednesday 26 August. If you would like to accept this invitation, please click on the link here to access the meeting. If you have any queries, please contact Natalie Grainger at natalie.grainger@nhs.net.

Members of the public and press are also encouraged to submit questions on the public agenda attached by 25 August 2020 to the Trust’s Company Secretary Gilbert George at gilbert.george5@nhs.net.

Questions linked to the agenda will be read out at the public board unless a request has been received not to do so.

We have some exciting news from our amazing Recovery College team – they have decided not to break for the summer this year and instead, will be offering a range of exciting taster sessions online via Zoom for their current students! For more details about this, follow their Facebook page or contact the team on the number below.

Also on the horizon, the College will be delivering a new online prospectus ready for the September term. This will consist of new and existing courses which have been developed and coproduced for online delivery, so keep an eye out for more updates on this in the following weeks!

Due to the volume of students that enrolled from Jan - March and were unable to attend courses because of Covid restrictions, the College will only be offering our courses for the September term to fully enrolled students and unfortunately will be unable to enrol any new students. However, the team are working on delivering virtual ‘Lets Connect’ sessions to enable prospective students to gain information and connect with others in a positive way. If you would like more information about the Recovery College, their courses and how they can help you, please contact Kerry Wilkes, Recovery College Principal at Kerry.wilkes@nhs.net or call 0121 543 4061.

An innovative project to provide iPads for patients in hospital and out in the community has been launched at Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Helping patients to stay connected during Covid; the brand new iPads allow patients to take part in therapy sessions interactively, help them job search and gives them chance to keep in touch with family and friends regularly.

Meetings that usually took place in local libraries or community centres, which patients heavily relied on, suddenly became not an option and so teams did not stop in the hunt to find an alternative way of communicating with patients.  

The Trust’s Therapy and Liaison Community Service (TALCS) and the Building Better Opportunities Team (BBO) worked with the Trust’s IT team to procure iPads and make use of them with their patients during this pandemic. 

Lead Community Mental Health Nurse for TALCS, Vicki Gobsill said, “A lot of our patients who are aged over 65 with mental health conditions or have dementia felt extremely isolated during lockdown so these iPads have been a fantastic opportunity for our patients to interact with members of our team and their friends and family.”

She added: “We are very grateful to our colleagues in the IT Department for providing this technology that is making such a difference to patients and their wellbeing but also their friends and families in these difficult times.”

The Trust hopes to roll out iPads across the wider organisation after such a successful project.

A new walk-in testing site opened in West Bromwich yesterday (Thursday 6 August), to help people get a free test as quickly as possible if they notice symptoms of Covid-19.

The site will help respond to a higher than expected level of Covid-19 infections currently in the West Bromwich area.

Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms, however mild, can get a free swab test that takes less than a minute.

Tests should be booked as soon as symptoms occur, either online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119, and you can expect your result the next day.

The main symptoms of Covid-19 are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell.

All tests must be pre-booked. Please do not turn up without a booked test.

People attending tests must not travel by taxi or public transport. They must practise good personal hygiene and wear a face covering throughout (including travelling to and from the testing centre).

Anyone attending an appointment will be provided with guidance on getting to and from the test site safely. Testing is available for everyone, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.

Additionally, a Covid-19 testing site in Wolverhampton started accepting walk-ins today (Friday 7 August).

The Showell Road site off Stafford Road had previously been used for pre-booked drive-through tests only.

It will now also be open as a walk-in site as part of efforts by City of Wolverhampton Council to make testing more accessible.

Showell Road will accept walk-ins for the first time between 2pm and 5pm today. It will open between 10am and 5pm tomorrow (Saturday 8 August). It will then be open between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week.

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will be asked to share information about people that have been close contacts recently.

If NHS Test and Trace ask you to self-isolate due to contact with a person who has coronavirus, you should stay home and not attend the test centre, unless you then develop symptoms yourself.

For the latest information and guidance around coronavirus, please visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Due to current concerns in regards to rising cases of Covid-19 in some boroughs of the Black Country and also in line with updated Government guidance and the delay in easing some lockdown measures, we have made the decision to cancel plans to reinstate visiting from 3 August across all of our inpatient sites.

We haven’t made this decision lightly, and we understand that it will be upsetting to both our patients and their friends and families, but it is a necessary step to take in order to keep everyone safe.

We continue to provide digital methods to support communication between patients and their loved ones and patients and all wards have access to these options.

We will review our visiting guidelines regularly and provide any updates as soon as we are able to.


We hope that you have found the digital ways of keeping in touch with patients useful during the last few months, all of our inpatient wards still have access to these methods and where possible you should continue communicating with your loved ones in this way, however, from Monday 3 August, friends and relatives will be able to see patients face to face, by appointment only.


Visiting will look a bit different to what you might be used to – days and times will vary dependent on the wards you friend or relative is on and we have put a number of measures in place to ensure the safety of you, our patients and our staff. These will be clearly explained to you when you book an appointment to visit.


You will be asked to wash your hands on entering and exiting the ward and you will be required to wear a face mask whilst on the hospital site – failure to comply with these requests may result in your visit being cancelled.


All visits must be pre-booked to enable the ward to manage numbers and ensure adherence to social distancing guidelines. Please note that if you turn up at the ward without an appointment you will be unable to visit your friend or relative.

To arrange a visit please contact the relevant ward directly:


Penn Hospital – Wolverhampton

Dale – 01902 445885
Brook – 01902 445925


Bushey Fields Hospital – Dudley

Clee- 01384 325086

Clent- 01384 325091

Wrekin- 01384 325088

Malvern and Holyrood- 01384 324603


Dorothy Pattison Hospital – Walsall

Langdale- 01922 608205

Ambleside- 01922 607053


Hallam Street Hospital – Sandwell

Abbey 0121 612 8669

Charlemont 0121 612 8673

Friar 0121 612 8664


Edward Street Hospital – Sandwell

Chance – 0121 612 8220
Salter – 0121 612 8250


Heath Lane Hospital – Sandwell

Macarthur - 0121 612 8530
Gerry Simon - 0121 612 8408

In view of the COVID19 outbreak, members of the public are invited to attend the Trust's Virtual Public Meeting. If you would like to accept this invitation, please click on the link here to access the meeting. If you have any queries, please contact Natalie Grainger at natalie.grainger@nhs.net.

Members of the public and press are also encouraged to submit questions on the public agenda attached by 28 July 2020 to the Trust’s Company Secretary Gilbert George at gilbert.george5@nhs.net.

Questions linked to the agenda will be read out at the public board unless a request has been received not to do so.

In view of the COVID-19 outbreak, members of the public are invited to attend the Trust's Virtual Assembly of Governors Meeting. If you would like to accept this invitation, please contact Natalie Grainger at natalie.grainger@nhs.net providing your email address and contact number.

Members of the public and press are also encouraged to submit questions on the public agenda by 20th July to the Trust’s Company Secretary Gilbert George at gilbert.george5@nhs.net.

Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHFT) has made two new appointments to its senior team.

Dean Howells will join the Trust as Chief Nurse and Georgina Dean joins as Chief Finance Officer.

With a long career in healthcare, Dean has worked across the NHS, independent and charity healthcare sectors, and is currently Executive Director of Nursing and Quality at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust. Appointed a Queen’s Nurse in 2014, in recognition for his commitment to high standards of practice and patient-centred care, Dean has a passion for developing a compassionate and caring culture. Dean is also Honorary Professor at the school of Health and Education, Middlesex University London.

Dean commented “I am delighted to be joining the Trust at such an exciting time for Black Country services. I am very much looking forward to working in very close partnership with service users, carers and all staff teams in further developing a supportive and compassionate culture which continually improves the delivery of great personalised care and clinical outcomes.”

In the interim, Judy McDonald will become Chief Nurse when Rosie Musson retires after over 35 years of service within the NHS at the end of July.

Georgina Dean joins the Trust from NHS England/Improvement where she was Director of Operational Finance for the Midlands region. She has previously held senior finance positions at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Georgina commented “I am really pleased to be joining the board of Black Country Healthcare as Chief Finance Officer. I look forward to getting to know the organisation and in particular meeting with staff, service users, carers and families. I am excited to support the newly merged organisation, and although Covid-19 has brought many challenges, it has also brought many opportunities which I want to build on whilst continuing to improve services for our communities.

Mark Axcell, Chief Executive said “We are delighted to make these key appointments and they both bring a wealth of experience and knowledge and will make great additions to our executive team.

“This is an exciting time for our newly merged Trust and indeed the development of mental health, learning disability and family healthcare services across the region. We look forward to giving them a warm Black Country welcome.”

Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is going above and beyond to help dementia patients reminisce and remember their loved ones during these difficult times.

Activity Co-ordinator and NHS Hero Jayne Burns is one of the many staff members who has gone the extra mile for her patients on Linden Ward at Bloxwich Hospital in Walsall.

Helping to give patients the best experience possible, Jayne and her colleagues make sure each individual patient receives a ‘This is Your Life’ book on admission to hospital. This memory book helps to stimulate patients’ memories and help them to reconnect with their loved ones by looking at photographs and keepsakes from their childhood to the present day.

Unfortunately, not all patients have family or friends close by which has been even more isolating for some patients during this pandemic; one of those patients being someone who moved from Jamaica to England all by himself when he was just 17 years old.

He had no photographs or notes he could look back on and so with an empty book, Jayne took the time to write to the Jamaican High Commission in London in the attempt to retrieve some items for his memory book which he would take with him on his journey outside of hospital.

Unsure if she would hear back due to the Coronavirus outbreak, to Jayne’s surprise she received a number of mementos and merchandise in the post. The Jamaican High Commission sent a number of items such as the Jamaican flag, books and photographs along with copies of the national anthem and popular songs to help populate the empty book.  

Jayne said: “Sometimes you have to just think outside the box, if patients don’t have family members or friends, it’s important to look a bit further because it really does make all the difference.”

In view of the COVID-19 outbreak, members of the public are invited to attend the Trust's Virtual Public Meeting.

If you would like to accept this invitation, please contact Natalie Grainger at natalie.grainger@nhs.net providing your email address and contact number. Members of the public and press are also encouraged to submit questions on the public agenda by 23rd June 2020 to the Trust’s Company Secretary Gilbert George at gilbert.george5@nhs.net.

Questions linked to the agenda will be read out at the public board unless a request has been received not to do so.

Members of the public are being invited to stand for election and make a difference as an active member of our Trust’s Assembly of Governors.


Governors play a vital role in influencing the future plans of the Trust, including how we can improve the quality of services for our staff and patients. It’s also about having a voice and representing the views and interests of local people.


Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Chair, Jeremy Vanes, said: "This is the first time that we will be running governor elections as Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. It is an exciting time to join our Assembly of Governors and we would encourage anyone that is passionate about being an advocate for what matters the most to people of the Black Country, with regards to mental health, learning disability and children’s services, to put themselves forward.

"If you live within the Black Country, are aged 16 years or over and have an interest in mental health, learning disabilities and children’s services, why not apply to become a governor and help make a difference today!"


Whilst the role of the governor is a voluntary one, the Trust will support, and train those people interested in becoming a governor, to give them the confidence, and skills as well as the right knowledge, to enable them to take on this important role within the Trust.


If you are interested in becoming a governor you will need to be a member of Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Becoming a member is free and easy to do. All you need to do is go online at https://secure.membra.co.uk/BlackCountryHealthcareApplicationForm/  and complete a membership application form.


If you are already a member and would like to become a governor you will need to submit your application form online via www.cesvotes.com/blackcountry2020 . If you require any assistance in completing your application, please contact Ciara Hutchinson at Civica Election Services on 0208 889 9203 or email ftnominationenquiries@cesvotes.com  


Nominations close 5pm, Monday 6 July 2020.

To find out more about being a governor contact the Trust’s Membership Office on 0121 612 8061, email bchft.membership@nhs.net

Communication and staying connected during lockdown has been challenging for some, especially between our patients and services, however our Dudley Learning Disability Speech and Language Therapy team have embraced virtual conferencing and introduced Telehealth sessions for their clients! 


The team have been introducing new, innovative ways to carry out therapy sessions with some of their clients with learning disabilities who use communication books.


They have been carrying out sessions with them and their carers and have used social chat, games and activities through video calls to encourage their clients to use their communication books. They have also been able to use the screen share facility to demonstrate how to use the book for carers so that they have been able to build their confidence too.


Carers have fed back that the sessions have not only be useful for practicing using clients communication books but have also given the clients something to look forward to as they have had an opportunity for some social interaction and to have some fun!


Well done team! 

Today mark's Learning Disability Awareness Week and we are encouraging learning disability carers and healthcare workers to consider their mental health and address their wellbeing.

We are encouraging individuals who care for someone with a learning disability, be that in a clinical setting or in their homes, to join a two-part virtual workshop hosted by clinical psychologists on topics around supporting their wellbeing during the Coronavirus pandemic, from exploring the difficulties and challenges they may have experienced whilst caring for someone during lockdown, to the importance of maintaining self-care at work and at home.


The sessions, which take place on Tuesday 16 June, 10am and Thursday 18 June, 10am via Zoom, will last for 30 minutes each, and will also allow time for any individuals to ask any questions they might have.


Scott Humphries, Deputy Director for Learning Disabilities at BCHFT said: “Whilst our frontline workers have been vital during this lockdown period, carers and healthcare workers, especially those looking after individuals with learning disabilities can often be overlooked, overworked and feel more isolated during this pandemic.

“We hope that by discussing the adversities that they may have experienced during these challenging times, from stress, anxiety and fatigue, we can look into how to support them further post lockdown and Covid-19.”


Throughout the week, the Trust will also be sharing a variety of learning disability roles currently on offer, empowering learning disability stories and helpful, educational resources that carers can access and download via their social media channels and website.


Details of the virtual workshop are as follows:

10% of all sites open to Covid-19 studies in England are in the West Midlands.

Could you help contribute to scientific knowledge of the virus? Check for studies you may be able to take part in, whether you have had coronavirus or not, at www.bepartofresearch.nihr.ac.uk.

Recruitment update for Covid-19 can be found by clicking here.

Public Health England (PHE) has advised of a potential scam involving a text message being sent to some women claiming to be from the NHS Cervical Screening Programme “Call and Recall” service.

The text message advises that the recipient is overdue for their cervical screening test (smear test) and to call a mobile number to book an appointment and provide personal details. 

These text messages are NOT from the NHS cervical screening programme, please DO NOT disclose any personal information should you receive this message.

This has been reported to the Action Fraud Line.

For more information on cervical screening, please visit the NHS website.

In view of the COVID19 outbreak, members of the public are invited to attend the Trust's Virtual Public Meeting. If you would like to accept this invitation, please contact Natalie Grainger at natalie.grainger@nhs.net providing your email address and contract number.

Members of the public and press are also encouraged to submit questions on the public agenda by 26 May to the Trust’s Company Secretary Gilbert George at gilbert.george5@nhs.net.

Questions linked to the agenda will be read out at the public board unless a request has been received not to do so.

Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is stepping up to support colleagues across the health and social care system in dealing with coronavirus.

A bespoke package has been developed by the trust offering hospital and community NHS staff, council workers and care home staff across the Black Country psychological support.

Trained mental health professionals are on hand to speak with workers should they need help in managing their wellbeing during these challenging times. The package also includes access to online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helping with a range of concerns including stress, anxiety and resilience.

Alongside the offer for health and social care workers, the trust has recently launched a new phone line to support people experiencing mental health crisis.

Available to residents of all ages across the Black Country, the phone line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 0345 6460827.

Ashi Williams, Director of People, Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “We know in the current climate that people across the health and social care system are coming under increasing amounts of pressure, which can affect their mental health. As a system partner we wanted to do our bit which is why we developed this package of support.

“Now more than ever it is really important for people to look after their wellbeing and we want to make sure that help is available should people need it.”

Thembi.jpgMark Axcell, Chief Executive of Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of our colleagues, Thembinkosi Ngwenya (48) who passed away in hospital from Covid-19.

“Known to his colleagues at Thembi, he was a highly respected and hugely popular mental health nurse. After qualifying in May 2018, Thembi joined the organisation in October 2018 and worked as a nurse on both Friar Ward and Abbey Ward at Hallam Street Hospital in West Bromwich.

“He was an incredibly dedicated nurse; full of kindness, compassion and understanding towards the patients he worked with and will be truly missed by all his colleagues.

“We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Thembi’s family and our thoughts are with them and all who knew and loved him at this difficult time.”

Thembi was a devoted husband and father to his two sons. His wife said: “Thembi was an incredible person and we are devastated by his passing. He was a loving husband and wonderful father to our two boys, and was passionate about his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

“He was so proud when he completed his training in 2018 and secured a job as a mental health nurse. He loved his work and was incredibly dedicated to the patients that he looked after.

“We would like to pay tribute to the staff at Russells Hall Hospital who cared for Thembi during his illness.”

We would ask that you respect the family’s wish for privacy at this difficult time, as they start to come to terms with the terrible loss.

At Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, our staff are working tirelessly to provide mental health, learning disability and children’s services to communities across the whole Black Country.

It would be amazing if we could show them just how appreciated and important they are in this fight against Covid-19, and we are hoping you could help us!

We’d be so grateful for any artwork such as drawings, paintings, letters, poems, or any messages of thanks/support that we could display at our sites.

These can be sent to bchft.communications@nhs.net or:



Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Delta House

Greets Green Road

West Bromwich

B70 9PL

They would really lift the spirits of our staff who are working so hard in these challenging times - thank you!

People across the Black Country now have access to urgent mental health, learning disability and/or autism support following the launch of a new helpline from Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The phone line, which is open to residents of all ages across the Black Country, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Particularly suited to those who feel like they need urgent help, the helpline is manned by specialist mental health staff, who will provide advice, support and signposting over the phone.

Alongside the phone line, the trust is encouraging people to get support through the Healthy Minds / Talking Therapy services which offer psychological therapy services for people experiencing common problems such as low mood, depression, anxiety and stress.

Chris Masikane, Chief Operating Officer said: “We are delighted to launch the new 24/7 phone line, which we hope will provide advice and support to those who need it urgently.

“We know that many people are experiencing increased distress or anxiety during these uncertain times. I would urge you to pick up the phone and speak to one of our specialist mental health professionals who will be able to support you.”

All of the trusts other services are still in operation and are encouraging any current service users to maintain their usual route of contact.

People can access the 24/7 phone line by calling 0345 6460827.

For Healthy Minds / IAPT services:

Free online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy programmes are available via:

Following the recent COVID19 situation and subsequent government directives, our Trust Board will be invoking s28.1 of its constitution and excluding members of the public from attending the Trust Board public meeting scheduled for 29th April 2020 and other public meetings until further notice.

s28.1 Meetings of the Board of Directors shall be open to members of the public. Members of the public may be excluded from a meeting for special reasons.

Members of the public will be able to download Trust Board papers here and submit any questions or queries on them to Gilbert George, Company Secretary at gilbert.george5@nhs.net .

Questions for the Trust Board public meeting on the 29th April, must be received by the 27th April. Questions and responses will be read out in the public meeting unless otherwise requested not to. 

Former DWMH medical director and CAMHS consultant psychiatrist Dr Kate Gingell has returned to support patients on the frontline in response to Covid-19.

Dr Gingell, who retired from Dudley and Walsall Mental Health (DWMH) Partnership NHS Trust in July 2019, has re-joined the newly merged Black Country Health NHS Foundation Trust’s Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

The Dudley CAMHS team has welcomed Dr Gingell back with open arms especially during this difficult time.

Chief Executive Mark Axcell said, “It is wonderful to see the dedication and commitment from Dr Gingell who has returned from retirement to help us battle Covid-19.

“We are so appreciative of former colleauges who are taking this opportunity to help and support our staff, patients and the community across the Black Country at this time.”


Dawn.jpgWe are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of our colleagues, Dawn Marshall who passed away recently from complications caused by Covid-19.

Dawn has been a valued member of our organisation for almost 10 years, working at Hallam Street Hospital, McCarthur Unit and more recently as a Support Time Recovery Worker based at Quayside House in Oldbury.

She was always very helpful and supportive to her colleagues and was able to build a real rapport with the service users she worked with. She had an incredible bubbly character and was always breaking out in song.

Whenever Dawn took time to reflect on her career within the NHS, she always said that making sure her patients knew there was a life to live beyond their mental health was her priority.

 She will be sorely missed but fondly remembered by all who knew her.

We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Dawn’s family and our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.


During the Covid-19 pandemic, we are ensuring that the safety of our staff, patients and carers is our number one priority, meaning that those who require our services have continued access.

There may, however, be some disruption to our supporting services. Our staff will continue to provide help and suport in line with national guidance, and we advise that you protect yourselves and those around you by also following NHS advice which can be found here.

If you have any queries regarding appointments, please use the contact details that have been provided to you previously, as they are specific to the service you use.

Although the NHS is experiencing additional pressures during this time, we want to assure you that your care is highly important to us, as well as the need for those who use our services to remain informed and connected at all times. If you have any concerns or questions, please make sure to get in touch.

You can read a letter from Chief Executive Mark Axcell addressed to patients and carers here, as well as an easy read version.

We are currently looking for people to join our staff bank, to support our estates and facilities team.

There are a number of opportunities available across our Trust sites in Dudley, Walsall, Sandwell and Wolverhampton - if you or someone you know is interested in this opportunity, please email bcpft.bankhelpdesk@nhs.net with an expression of interest, also indicating the area in which you would prefer to be based, and whether you are able to travel.

The only requirement is some experience in either housekeeping/cleaning or catering, and roles are available to start as soon as possible.

NHS Regulators gave the green light for the planned merger of two NHS trusts in the Black Country.

On 1 April, staff and services from Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership transferred over to Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to form one NHS trust – known as Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

This development means that there is one main NHS provider for mental health, learning disability and children’s healthcare services across the Black Country.

Mark Axcell, Chief Executive of both trusts commented “We are delighted that our plans were approved and have joined together.”

“Whilst 1 April signified an important milestone for us, our focus at the moment is ensuring we are doing all we can to provide safe care and supporting our health colleagues across the system in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both trusts were recently rated ‘Good’ in their most recent CQC inspections and have seen improving staff survey results. This development has only strengthened that work and has helped us to forge future plans around strengthening local mental health and learning disability provision.


Following the recent COVID19 situation and subsequent government directives, our Trust Board will be invoking s28.1 of its constitution and excluding members of the public from attending the Trust Board public meetings until further notice.

s28.1 Meetings of the Board of Directors shall be open to members of the public. Members of the public may be excluded from a meeting for special reasons.

Members of the public will be able to download and view Trust Board papers by clicking here and submit any questions or queries on them to Gilbert George, Company Secretary at gilbert.george5@nhs.net.

A strong desire to help others has led Stevie Chand, (27) from Dudley, into a career working in the healthcare profession.

He currently works as a vocational specialist for Dudley and Walsall Mental Health NHS Partnership Trust (DWMH), which sees him supporting people with mental health conditions, physical health concerns or long term conditions gain sustainable employment. 

“Ever since a young age, I have enjoyed working with others,” explained Stevie.

“Prior to joining DWMH two years ago, I worked in a drug and alcohol recovery service, before moving on to support people who had HIV/Aids. What really struck me in this role was the affect that these issues could have on a person’s mental health – which ignited a passion within me to work more closely with a mental health service."

Stevie thoroughly enjoys his role, which sees him spend a lot of his time working in the community to support his clients on their employment journey.

“My days are mostly spent meeting with my clients and supporting them with things such as CV building or preparing for interviews. I meet them wherever they feel safe and comfortable to meet me – this could be GP surgeries, libraries or their own home.

“A part of my role also involves supporting my clients once they have found work, so I often meet them before or after their shifts.

“The job is incredibly rewarding – to know that I am reaching out to someone who might be feeling really down on their self and then to see them flourish and start to develop some self-belief brings a smile to my face each and every day.”

During February, we celebrate LGBT+ History Month, something which is particularly close to Stevie’s heart.

“I was first attracted to work for the Trust as I knew they were a Stonewall employer – and I have been incredibly impressed with the work they do to promote equality. I am a member of the LGBTQ+ staff network and feel incredibly supported to be able to bring my whole-self to work.”

Outside of work, Stevie has a passion for fashion!

“I can often be found around a sewing machine or deep in a fashion magazine,” laughed Stevie!

“I also enjoy going to the gym and travelling.”

Stevie says that his next big challenge is to go to university to do a clinical degree: “I’d love to get more involved in the clinical side of mental health.”

So who is Stevie’s own hero?

“My mom and my grandma – they are both the strongest and kindest women I know. They have always allowed me to be my most authentic self and to be unapologetically me. Throughout my life they have taught me the importance of being a shoulder to cry on for somebody who needs it.”

Stevie’s mental health message: “Talk – I know everyone can get lost in work, raising little ones and general life, but having a moment to talk to someone about how you feel is the most important thing you can do for your mental health.”