Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust staff have been shortlisted in five prestigious national awards | News and Events

Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust staff have been shortlisted in five prestigious national awards

Three individuals and two teams from Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) have been shortlisted in the prestigious Royal College of Psychiatrists Awards.

The shortlisters are as follows:

  • Core Psychiatric Trainee of the Year - Dr Gemma Buston, Core Trainee 3
  • 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: Working Age Adults – Greater Manchester Specialist Perinatal Community Mental Health Team
  • Psychiatric Team of the Year: Quality Improvement – Irwell Ward Quality Improvement Team

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

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.

Previous winners include Dr Max Pemberton, British medical doctor, journalist and author; Dr Geraldine Strathdee, the national Clinical Director for Mental Health; and the Ninja Theory’s Hellblade Development Team, the team behind the action-adventure game, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

This year, five individuals and teams from GMMH have been shortlisted in the Awards, recognising their expertise and achievement in the fields of care contribution, psychiatry for working age adults, quality improvement, and core and higher psychiatric trainee of the year.

Neil Thwaite, Chief Executive at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust said:

“I am absolutely delighted that GMMH staff and teams have been shortlisted for five of the RCPsych Awards.

“This past year has been extremely challenging, and it has been inspiring to see our staff rise to the occasion, working in new and innovative ways in order to continue to provide vital mental health care and support at a time when our communities have needed us the most. It’s great to see the hard work and compassion of our staff during these challenging times recognised at the Awards.”

Dr Alice Seabourne, Medical Director at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust said:

“I am so proud of all our staff who have been shortlisted for the prestigious RCPsych Awards.

“Our specialist medical staff are essential to the high quality care and support we provide, and our psychiatric trainees are some of the brightest, compassionate individuals, who will shape the principles and practice of psychiatry now and in the future.

“Our medical staff work alongside their brilliant teammates from a range of disciplines, all working towards the same goal of providing the best possible care and improving wellbeing for the most vulnerable in our society. It is this team spirit, grit and determination which has enabled us to achieve so much, and we are thrilled that this has been formally recognised by the College.”

The winners will be announced at the virtual RCPsych Awards ceremony on 11 November 2021.


RCPsych GMMH Shortlisters


Core Psychiatric Trainee of the Year – Dr Gemma Buston

Gemma Buston

Dr Gemma Buston, based at the Moorside Unit in Trafford, is committed to improving the wellbeing of both the public and her colleagues, with a strong belief in preventative mental health. As a member of the RCPsych Sustainability and Planetary Health Committee, Dr Buston led on developing a patent information leaflet describing the benefits and evidence of social prescribing. She has delivered talks on mental health to members of the local South Asian community, to contribute to breaking down the stigma of mental health amongst this demographic.

As part of her role at Salford Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Dr Buston led the department’s ‘Green Impact’ efforts to improve their sustainability. Dr Buston has also contributed to the RCPsych Wellbeing Committee’s development of Wellbeing Champions; and is currently leading a pilot Buddy Scheme for new international medical graduates starting psychiatry training in the region. Dr Buston continues to develop projects to improve trainee wellbeing as a member of the HEE North West Trainee Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Network.

Dr Buston co-led a trust-wide audit regarding the use of high dose antipsychotic therapy in inpatient units. She arranged for her findings to be presented at the trust’s medicine management meetings, to allow review and improvement of system-wide practices and policies. Dr Buston won a local audit prize for this work. The findings were accepted for presentation at the International Congress 2020.


Higher Psychiatric Trainee of the Year – Dr Alex Till

Alex Till

Dr Alex Till, based at The Edenfield Centre in Prestwich, has consistently excelled in all aspects of his training and has carefully balanced developing excellent clinical skills alongside a strong local and national profile.

Building on his experience as a National Medical Director’s Clinical Fellow and Chair of the Psychiatric Trainees’ Committee, Dr Till introduced, developed, and established the RCPsych Leadership and Management Fellow Scheme. Now Director, the scheme is running its third cohort and has supported approximately 90 higher trainees across over 30 organisations throughout the UK.

Dr Till completed an MSc in Leadership for the Health Professions and an Executive MBA with distinction, publishing his research in BMJ Leader and internationally presenting at Leaders in Healthcare in 2020. In combination with his fourth proposal accepted by International Congress, Dr Till is an accomplished academic, and has over 40 peer-reviewed publications.

Alongside his role as a Specialist Advisor for the CQC, Dr Till was appointed as Deputy Lead Governor at Mersey Care NHS FT, recently been appointed a Magistrate in Greater Manchester. He also played a key role in founding the RCPsych Digital Special Interest Group, also subsequently being elected Finance Officer.

Dr Till is an Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at Swansea University. He supervises students undertaking their postgraduate Master’s in Leadership for the Health Professions.


Carer Contributor of the Year - Neil Grace

Neil Grace

Neil Grace, originally from Bolton and based at Trust Headquarters (The Curve) in Prestwich, is a committed advocate and a strong voice for carers within the Trust.  He is a point of contact for carers when they require additional support and an enthusiastic advocate to GMMH’s 6,000 staff members on the benefits of identifying carers early and supporting them in their own right. Neil works tirelessly to support services in the involvement of carers in the care being provided to the person they support.

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

In the last 12 months, Neil has supported newly acquired 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. Neil has also developed a ‘Hidden Carers Campaign’ to raise the profile of Carer engagement 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.


Psychiatric Team of the Year: Working Age Adults – Greater Manchester Specialist Perinatal Community Mental Health Team


GMMH is the largest single provider of Specialist Perinatal Services in England, serving 37,000 maternities, across three mental health trusts, 8 maternity sites and 10 CCGs.

The Greater Manchester Specialist Perinatal Community Mental Health Team, based at Laureate House in Wythenshawe, Manchester, mobilised at speed and attracted a motivated and compassionate workforce who surpassed the NHSE access target in 2018/19 and 2019/20 and will meet the target in 2020/21.

In 2020, the team co-designed an innovative i-THRIVE GM Perinatal and Parent-Infant model.  This is a novel approach to delivering perinatal mental healthcare integrating health, social care and the voluntary sector for the whole family to utilise all available resources and to reduce barriers to access, which has been described in feedback as ‘seamless’.

The team developed an extensive teaching programme throughout 2020 including a 12-week webinar series attended by 200-300 participants to improve understanding of perinatal mental illness. This is currently being rolled out across GM prior to a national collaboration later in 2021 with HEE. 

In 2020, the teams developed compassion-focussed therapy groups; and an innovative yoga group focussing on wellbeing, prevention and non-medication approaches to the management of mood disorders, which has received excellent feedback. Throughout 2020, the team has also developed quality improvement projects on prescribing of valproate and pre-conception counselling, research, and a thoughtful response to the pandemic.

This is a remarkable team who have recently received outstanding feedback in the Perinatal Quality Network peer review which reviewed the service from Jan 2020-Jan 2021.


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


Irwell Ward is a six-bedded Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) within the Trust, based at the Moorside Unit in Trafford. It had one of the highest uses of restrictive practice, with a significant increase in the use of seclusion, restraint, and rapid tranquilisation.  The team set up a project with the Royal College of Psychiatrists – 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.

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.  Patients were heavily involved, and every idea was discussed with their input and feedback so that they understood the reasons why things were being done. 

By April 2020, there had been a 61% reduction in the use of restrictive practice; 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.

As a patient

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