GMMH staff have won four national mental health awards! | Awards and accreditations

Awards, Accreditations and Points of Pride

The last two years have been the most challenging in the history of the NHS and we must not underestimate the significant effort that has taken place to respond at pace to the requirements of the pandemic. As the pandemic has progressed, we have seen a rise in the level of mental health needs and acuity and an increasing demand for services and mental health support. Our staff, across all services, both clinical and corporate, have worked tirelessly during the changing demands of the pandemic to adjust, expand and flex the delivery of services to meet the needs of our service users to ensure the least disruption to their care.

We have much to be proud of as an organisation.

  • Living Wage – we have been a Living Wage Employer since 2015 and celebrated our 7-year anniversary in 2022.
  • Vaccination Programme - Through our Gold Command arrangements, we have delivered a comprehensive and speedy vaccination programme to both our staff and service users and have established robust Infection, Prevention and Control arrangements to ensure the safety of all.
  • The Trust’s Recovery Academy , which supports over 7,000 students, returned to face-to-face learning, whilst improving the service by providing access to all the online resources they had built up during the pandemic.
  • The first Green Health Walk opened on the Trust’s Prestwich site , constructed by Sow the City. It was co-designed with service users and staff at the Trust to promote the physical and mental benefits of greenspace and exercise by exploring designated walking routes across our Prestwich site. This innovative approach was proudly exhibited at COP26 - the United Nations Conference of the Parties in Glasgow in autumn 2021. This forms part of GMMH’s Green Plan, which was launched in January 2022 as a ‘blueprint for the next five years’ to support the national NHS net zero pledge.
  • Supported Internship Scheme  - In March 2022, we joined a Supported Internship Scheme which helps young people with learning disabilities to access support, education, and work experience with the goal of progressing into permanent employment. To date, six interns have been placed into roles within their Facilities department in areas such as Catering, Administration, Transport & Logistics and Domestic Services; and one has been offered a permanent position.
  • Breakthrough success of study using virtual reality (VR) to treat mental health problems trialled in Manchester. A national study, delivered by nine NHS Trusts, including GMMH, has found that automated virtual reality (VR) technology can successfully help people recover from mental health problems (April 2022).
  • Workforce - GMMH has been rated ‘Good’ in all areas of our education and training programme for apprentices, following an inspection by Ofsted in May 2022.  
  • Partnership working - A partnership between GMMH, Greater Manchester Police and the North-west Ambulance Service, aimed at improving care for people experiencing a mental health crisis, has been hailed a success. Just six months in (May 2022), over 1,100 cases had been diverted from frontline NWAS and GMP services, with quality NHS mental health support being provided instead.
  • Improving health outcomes for under-served populations - A Research Unit dedicated to researching inequalities in mental and physical healthcare has been launched by GMMH during Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Week (May 2022). The Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Research Unit is funded by GMMH, and led by Professor Dawn Edge, Professor of Mental Health & Inclusivity at GMMH and The University of Manchester.
  • Improving North Manchester – We're investing £105 million in modern facilities with the construction of a new adult mental health inpatient unit to replace Park House on the North Manchester General Hospital (NMGH) site. Work on the North View site started in August 2022 with the new unit anticipated to be built and operational by 2024.The modern facilities will utilise the latest technology and therapeutic design, to ensure an environment that is both conducive to recovery and pleasant to live in, work at and visit. In June 2022, the new development won a Design in Mental Health Award in the ‘Service User Engagement’ category.
  • The Greater Manchester Universities Student Mental Health Service a partnership between GMMH, NHS Greater Manchester, and the region’s five universities - has been hailed a success (July 2022).
  • Achieve - In July 2022, an external evaluation found that the Trust’s Achieve Drug and Alcohol Service’s approach to partnership-working is effective in supporting recovery from substance misuse, and could be rolled out in other geographical areas. Drug and Alcohol Recovery services for Bolton, Bury, Salford and Trafford have been praised in an evaluation report, undertaken by SQW, an independent research and consultancy organisation.  
  • An evaluation of Living Well Salford (15 August 2022) found that the service has supported people to achieve improved outcomes. The service offers support co-designed by people with lived experience of mental health problems and has also been shortlisted for ‘Mental Health Innovation of the Year’ in the prestigious national Health Service Journal awards 2022.
  • CPR training technology In Oct 2022, GMMH became the first mental health trust to install state of the art CPR training technology. The technology, called Brayden Online, combines a traditional mannequin with an iOS application which uses a cloud server, allowing staff to undertake CPR training at a time, date and location that is flexible for them.
  • National Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards 2022 - we’ve been recognised in the awards (6 October 2022) for a project run by GMMH using a technology called ‘Management and Supervision Tool’ (MaST) to support clinical care and patient safety in Community Mental Health Teams.
  • Research - We’re proud to be an NHS Partner of a bid for Greater Manchester awarded its largest ever research funding (October 2022) to tackle health inequalities and drive health improvements across the city region. This investment will support the delivery of important research into mental health care and treatment at the Biomedical Research Centre in Manchester. 
  • Ceramicists from our  Recovery Pathways service have contributed to the Manchester City Council’s Be Proud Awards 2022 by creating a series sculptures as prizes for winners.
  • NHS Talking Therapies – during 2020/21, more people than ever accessed talking therapies.  Across Bolton, Salford, Manchester, and Trafford, almost 25,000 people completed a full course of NHS talking therapy.
  • NHS Pastoral Care Quality Award - The award recognises our Trust’s work in international recruitment and our commitment to providing internationally educated nurses and midwives with high-quality pastoral care.

Find out more about awards our staff and teams have received below.

GMMH staff have won four national mental health awards!

Three individuals and one team from Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) have won awards in the Royal College of Psychiatrists Awards, marking the highest levels of excellence and achievement within the field of psychiatry.

The winners are:

  • Higher Psychiatric Trainee of the Year - Dr Alex Till, Specialty Registrar in Forensic Psychiatry
  • Carer Contributor of the Year - Neil Grace, Trust Carer Lead
  • Psychiatric Team of the Year: Quality Improvement – Irwell Ward Quality Improvement Team
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Professor Louis Appleby, Honorary Consultant

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is the professional medical body responsible setting and raising standards of psychiatry in the United Kingdom, and supporting psychiatrists throughout their careers from training through to retirement.

The RCPsych Awards mark the highest level of achievement within psychiatry, and are designed to recognise and reward excellent practice in the field of mental health.

Today (11 November 2021), at the virtual RCPsych Awards ceremony, host Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, announced that Dr Alex Till, Neil Grace and Irwell Ward from GMMH had won awards, recognising their expertise and achievement in the categories of Higher Psychiatric Trainee of the Year, Carer Contribution of the Year, and Psychiatric Team of the Year: Quality improvement.

In total, five GMMH staff and teams were shortlisted for the RCPsych Awards, with Dr Gemma Buston shortlisted for Core Psychiatric Trainee of the Year and GMMH’s Specialist Perinatal Community Mental Health Team shortlisted for Psychiatric Team of the Year: Working-age adults.

Neil Thwaite, Chief Executive at GMMH said:

“I am so proud that our GMMH staff have been recognised as national leaders for quality and innovative mental health practice.

“Over the past year, the pandemic has brought new challenges for how we continue to provide the highest quality mental health support and treatment to our communities. There has never been a more important time to work together to ensure everyone who is struggling with their mental health, or cares for someone who is, gets the right support at the right time.

“It has been inspiring to see our staff rise to the occasion, and this highest level of recognition is thoroughly deserved.”

Dr Alice Seabourne, Medical Director at GMMH said:

“I am absolutely thrilled that our GMMH colleagues have won three prestigious RCPsych Awards.

“Our Trust employs some of the best and brightest psychiatry staff in the UK, and we are committed to supporting our junior medical staff to develop and achieve their highest potential. They continue to push boundaries and shape the principles and practice of psychiatry now and in the future.

“Our medical staff work together with their brilliant teammates from a range of disciplines to consistently go above and beyond to provide the best possible support to their patients, carers and wider communities. It is this teamwork, passion and commitment which has allowed us to achieve so much, and we are delighted that this has been formally recognised by the College.”

Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“I would like to express a huge congratulations to every team and individual shortlisted in this year’s RCPsych Awards. It’s important to be able to recognise and celebrate successes, especially during such a challenging time. It’s been incredibly inspiring to hear about the great contributions to psychiatry being made by hard-working teams and individuals across the country.”


The Winners

Higher Psychiatric Trainee of the Year – Dr Alex Till

Dr Alex Till is an accomplished academic, a committed source of support to his peers and other health professionals, and a key contributor to the wider healthcare system.

Dr Alex Till

Alex Till, now an Acting Consultant Psychiatrist based at The Edenfield Centre in Prestwich, completed an MSc in Leadership for the Health Professions and an Executive MBA with distinction. His research was published in BMJ Leader and was internationally presented at Leaders in Healthcare in 2020.

Dr Till completed the National Medical Director’s Clinical Fellow Scheme and was Chair of the Psychiatric Trainees’ Committee. He is the founder and director of the RCPsych Leadership and Management Fellow Scheme, which is running its third cohort, supporting approximately 90 higher trainees, across over 30 organisations throughout the UK.

Dr Till has also been a Specialist Advisor for the CQC, Deputy Lead Governor of an NHS Foundation Trust, and has recently been appointed as a Magistrate in Greater Manchester.

Dr Till said:

“It is an honour to have been recognised as RCPsych Higher Trainee of the Year.

“I have been very fortunate to have been afforded a number of opportunities by a number of incredible individuals throughout my career – a testament in my view to the calibre of colleagues we are fortunate enough to work amongst within psychiatry – many of whom are here at GMMH.

“I can only promise that I will continue to do the same for others, to pay it forward, to nurture the talent around me, and to maximise the opportunities for others to be the very best that they can be, so that ultimately, we are all capable of delivering the highest quality care possible to our patients.”

Alex Till

Dr Alex Till receiving his award


Carer Contributor of the Year - Neil Grace

Neil Grace acts as a strong advocate for carers across the Trust, and has successfully engaged with carers to make sure they and those they care for receive the best support possible.

Neil Grace

Neil Grace, originally from Bolton and based at Trust Headquarters (The Curve) in Prestwich, is the Trust Carer Lead at GMMH.

A Carer is anyone who provides support to someone with an illness or disability (including a mental health problem), who could not cope without them. They may not identify with the term ‘carer’, and could be a family member or friend first.

Carers often know the people they support more than anyone else, and it is very important that Trust services engage with them so their thoughts and insights can be incorporated into care planning.

Caring for someone else can also be a difficult experience at times, and carers often need some support themselves, be it information or guidance on how to care for someone with a certain health condition, health and wellbeing resources, or simply a friendly face to talk with.

Neil works tirelessly to raise awareness of carers across the Trust, and makes sure they are listened to, supported and aware that there is help available for them as well as the people they care for.

Neil uses the feedback given by our carers to develop the Trust’s strategic goals around carers. He has worked with the Trust Recovery Academy to develop a library of carer support resources, and delivers a wide programme of training across services to ensure that the carers’ agenda is at the forefront.

In the last 12 months, Neil has supported services to roll out Carers’ Information packs, allocate Carer Champions within all teams, and has been on hand to support improvement of the rates of carer identification and carers assessments to make sure they are receiving the right support.

Neil has also developed a ‘Hidden Carers Campaign’ to raise awareness of the importance of identifying and engaging with Carers within Trust services. The Trust’s Community Mental Health Teams have seen a rise in carer identification / contact from 4% when the target was introduced to more than 90%.

In support of the NHS ten-year long-term plan and the embedding of Peer Support roles within services, Neil has developed the Trust Carer Peer Mentorship programme; empowering carers to offer practical and emotional support to other carers in need.

Neil has also used his experience and the views of carers to contribute to the NICE Guidelines around The Provision of Support for Adult Carers.

Neil Grace said:

“Being nominated for such a prestigious award was really unexpected and so to be shortlisted and win is an absolute honour!

“Over the course of the pandemic, carers have been taking on more challenging caring responsibilities and research suggests that their own mental health has been negatively impacted as a result.

“It’s so important that our services are proactively looking to identify carers, involve them in care and ensure they are receiving support for themselves. I’m proud to work for a Trust where the carers’ agenda is so highly regarded.

“This award is for all GMMH staff for their work to support and involve carers, including our 275 Carer Champions across services, our local Service User and Carer Leads in each division and for the Recovery Academy Team for their support in developing a wealth of dedicated carer resources.” 

Neil Grace

Neil Grace receiving his award


Psychiatric Team of the Year: Quality Improvement – Irwell Ward Quality Improvement Team

Irwell Ward Quality Improvement Team successfully reduced the use of restrictive practice – seeing the most improvements out of 42 PICUs

Irwell Ward

Restrictive practice is the act of reducing a person’s movements or freedom, to reduce the risk of the person harming themselves or others. There is strict legislation under the Mental Health Act on when and where it can be used – it can only be used in a dangerous situation where harm is likely to occur otherwise.

Restrictive practice can be traumatic for those involved, and when it is necessary, the least restriction possible should be used.

Irwell Ward - a six-bedded Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) within the Trust, based at the Moorside Unit in Trafford - worked with the Royal College of Psychiatrists to set up and deliver a project aimed at reducing restrictive practice, along with 41 PICUs from across the country.

This work was inspired by Aji Lewis, whose son had tragically died because of the use of restraint in a seclusion suite. The team attended a speech at RCPsych regarding the law to be changed around the use of restraint in mental health units.

At the start of the project Irwell Ward had one of the highest uses of restrictive practice, with a significant increase in the use of seclusion, restraint, and rapid tranquilisation.

The aim of the project was to reduce the use of restrictive interventions by 40%, empower patients to participate in care planning and reduce the risk of re-traumatisation associated with the use of restrictive interventions.

The Irwell Ward Restrictive Practice Collaborative was set up and included ward staff, peer mentors and a coach from the Royal College of Psychiatrists with expertise in reducing restrictive practice.

The ward was also provided with tools and resources, and from this, developed a quality improvement plan.

Patients were heavily involved, and every idea was discussed with their input and feedback before being implemented.

By April 2020, there had been a 61% reduction in the use of restrictive practice at Irwell Ward; and physical restraint had decreased by 70%.

There was a 79% reduction in the use of seclusion, and rapid tranquilisation had been reduced by 76%.

Out of the 42 PICUs who took part in this project, Irwell Ward saw the biggest reductions.

Geneive Colclough, Ward Manager of Irwell Ward said:

“Irwell Ward are extremely proud to have won the Quality Improvement Team of the Year Award in the RCPsych Awards.

“We were able to achieve such a significant reduction in restrictive practices by focussing on each individual patient experience, their triggers and what helps them feel safe. Taking time to get to know each patient was the basis for the project, and it remains embedded in practice now.

“Each patient has a Positive Behaviour Support plan that is implemented by the team during times of distress. We also have structured activities each day around times that would historically see increased incidents, such as morning time and ward round days.

“Supporting our staff was also a massive part of the project, and providing protected time for named nurse duties, responding to feedback, and monitoring wellbeing all ensured the team felt supported and positive. I want to thank every member of the Irwell Team for their commitment and enthusiasm during the project. Some staff who were pivotal in the project have sadly left, but we also share this award with them.”

Irwell Ward

Irwell Ward receiving their award


Professor Louis Appleby – Lifetime Achievement Award

Professor Louis Appleby, Honorary Consultant at the Trust, has won the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, presented at the annual ceremony, held virtually for the second time due to Covid-19.

Professor Louis Appleby is a Honorary Consultant at GMMH, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manchester, and leads the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England. He has been the Director of the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health since its inception in 1996 and under his leadership, it has developed into one of the top units for suicide prevention research in the world.

He currently chairs the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group for England and has championed the involvement of people with lived experience of services and families who have been bereaved.

He held successive National Clinical Director roles in Mental Health and then in Health and Criminal Justice. His work led to the re-design of community services, the reform of mental health legislation, the commissioning of a number of NICE guidelines and more effective liaison between health and criminal justice.

His wider NHS roles have included being a board member and non–executive director of the Care Quality Commission and working the General Medical Council to advise on suicide risk in doctors under investigation. He was also a member of the Mental Health Act review committee and was appointed by the NHS to examine the after-effects of the Grenfell fire on the local community. 

Professor Appleby said:

“It's a surprise and an honour to receive this award, I must thank the College. It's also a reminder, to me at least, of how much more we need to achieve in mental health, on safety and evidence and social justice."

As a patient

As a service user, relative or carer using our services, sometimes you may need to turn to someone for help, advice, and support. 

Find resources for carers and service users  Contact the Trust

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