The 2gether NHS Foundation Trust’s 2013 Annual General Meeting took place in Hereford on September 26th. The choice of venue reflected the work that the Trust does in Herefordshire in addition to its home county of Gloucestershire. The AGM was a pleasant occasion, with time set aside for attendees to chat and view a selection of information stands about the Trust’s work.
Printed copies of the Trust’s 140-page Annual Report and Accounts (PDF) were available to attendees. Curiously, the report doesn’t seem to be available on the Trust’s own website, so the link above is to Monitor’s copy.
Gloucestershire Children and Young People’s Board
A group of young people who are, or have been, patients of the Trust meets weekly in Gloucester as the CYP Board, and puts forward suggestions for improvements. The Trust also runs participation groups that provide support for young patients.
A couple of members of the CYP Board gave a presentation to the AGM, their very evident lack of preparation making it seem like a great ordeal for them, and gaining them a great deal of sympathy from the audience.
They presented a couple of case studies illustrating the kind of support that teenagers receive from the Trust. Unfortunately, as happened on a previous occasion, the case studies showed the Trust in a very bad light. The two girls described in the case studies had first been referred to the Trust at the ages of 12 and 13. They both received what was described as “counselling” for years and years, to no obvious effect. Both are still self harming, we were told, and both have now been referred on to other services.
The impression I had was one of utter clinical incompetence by the Trust.
Two representatives of commissioners in Herefordshire gave presentations on what they thought of the Trust. These were mainly congratulatory. There was some acknowledgement from one of the presenters that there is work to be done in areas such as outcomes and fitness of premises. The other presenter seemed to think that everything is already wonderful, and that it has been since 1948.
Herefordshire Mental Health Reference Group
An independent Herefordshire Mental Health Reference Group provides regular feedback to commissioners and the Trust on mental health services in the county. It’s run by Dawn Lewis, who is also a governor of the Trust. She gave a lively presentation on the history and work of the group, and I was very impressed. Every county should have a group like this!
I was less impressed by the presenter’s apparent enthusiasm for the controversial “recovery” model of mental health, according to which patients can be said to have “recovered” when they are objectively no better, and have simply become accustomed to being ill. My understanding is that this model can apply in limited circumstances to a small minority of patients, so I was disappointed to hear it touted as if it were a universal goal.
Reviews of the year
Perfunctory reviews of the year 2012-13 in terms of the Trust’s performance and financial state met the formal requirements of the AGM. I liked the way this was done, avoiding the tedium of typical AGMs. The detail is all in the Annual Report anyway.
Council of Governors
The Annual Report of the Council of Governors was, unfortunately, pretty dull by comparison. I noticed that the Council’s joint project with the Care Quality Commission and the Foundation Trust Governors’ Association failed to get a mention. (I suspect that, in fact, that work has been abandoned.)
Changes to the Trust’s constitution were presented to the AGM for a formal vote. This went badly. Attendees had not been able to scrutinise the many complex changes before the meeting, and the summary sheet handed out at the meeting did not tell the whole story. The changes were passed anyway, but it was a disgraceful way to conduct a formal vote.
Questions from the floor included criticism of the Trust for failing to have governor representation specifically from Herefordshire, and criticism of the Trust for failing to use its membership effectively. Promises were made that both matters would be fixed during the coming year.