Sadly, the CCG was not named as the winner of the CCG of the Year at the Health Service Journal Awards event on 18 November.  Despite the disappointment, we are delighted to have made the final six in the category CCG of the year and send our congratulations to the winners, Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG.

I enjoyed two recent visits to The Harbour in Blackpool, the new state-of-the-art mental health facility with 154 beds and costing more than £40million. The formal opening took place on 30 October, at which special guest Alistair Campbell spoke movingly of his own experiences of living with mental health problems.

The Harbour is a very welcoming facility and an excellent demonstration of ‘parity of esteem’ in action.  I was also at The Harbour to see first-hand the excellent work of the Mental Health Helpline having met some of the staff providing the service at our AGM in August.

In September, I visited Clifton Community Hospital in St Annes and was shown around by matron Courtney Bickerdike. The quality of care, staff leadership and commitment appeared very good and an upgrade of three of the wards – to provide an improved environment for all patients – is ongoing.

I attended a useful meeting with Monitor to reflect on the experience of dealing with the unfounded complaint the CCG received in 2013 about allegedly favouring Blackpool Teaching Hospitals over other providers. We are now better informed about Monitor’s responsibilities in relation to such investigations.

Clinical chief officer Dr Tony Naughton and I attended a meeting with Lancashire County Council leader Cllr Jenny Mein and chief executive Jo Turton to discuss the challenges facing local authorities and the health sector in Lancashire. Cllr Mein is now chair of the Lancashire Health and Wellbeing Board and Dr Naughton is vice-chair.

I have also extended an invitation to the new leaders of Healthwatch and the CVS, Mike Wedgeworth and Paul Greenwood respectively, to meet to discuss common priorities and agendas.

Lastly, I would like to pass on the condolences of the CCG to the family of Beverly Lester, the former chair of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust who sadly passed away recently. A memorial service is planned for 23 November which will be attended by CCG staff who knew and worked with her.