David Palmer (PhD)

Lead Mental Health Clinical Care

CEO at Mind in Bexley


My journey

I have over 15 years of experience of working with Bexley Mind as a CEO and I am committed to developing multi-professional relationships and enhancing the integration of local services, and championing a preventative approach where possible. The Mental Health Clinical Care Lead role is challenging but exciting and allows me to utilise my skills, wealth of experience and local knowledge to assist with developing services and partnerships and foster collaboration going forward. I have spent much of my work life working with individuals experiencing mental distress and I am keen to work closely with others in Bexley/place to explore opportunities to improve the outcomes for individuals experiencing mental health. This is truly a unique and exciting opportunity for a representative from the voluntary sector to work ‘in partnership’ with Clinical Directors, operational teams and commissioners not just to redesign and shape care pathways but to help develop a new ethos and culture that helps transform how we work together.

I’m working with colleagues from Oxleas and Bexley Commissioners to establish and co-ordinate a new Borough wide stakeholder partnership group with terms of reference, to foster collaboration and discuss and review key workstreams pertinent to the mental health of Bexley residents including but not limited to, the Transformation Agenda, Talking Therapies, SMI checks and MH inequalities. I’m also working with colleagues from Oxleas to establish a new forum whereby Clinical Directors, GP representatives, and colleagues from Oxleas and Mind meet regularly to improve communication and referral pathways and create a space to provide updates on current service provision, explore emerging trends and identify opportunities to work differently.

Within the context of the above, I’m also working closely with colleagues at Mind and Oxleas to develop and expand the participation of residents with lived experience of mental health services and start to champion personalisation within the delivery of services in Bexley. I am also leading on a large qualitative evaluation of service users accessing support from the Transformation Hub to explore the impact on subjective wellbeing for the individual, review service provision to date and process and incorporate recommendations for Hub improvement based on the information obtained. The philosophy that underpins this is the belief that it is necessary to engage with human stories which tell us how people have felt about, made sense of, and coped with mental distress, if we are to fully understand how services can be improved for those experiencing mental distress.

I am also supporting initiatives which target the reduction of inequalities within Bexley including collaborating with the GP Clinical and Care Lead for Health Inequalities on establishing a local BAME Mental Health Forum with the aim to engage and empower marginalised patients and communities in Bexley to influence local health care provision. This new forum which has just been been set up at Mind in Bexley, provides a way for health professionals, and commissioners to listen to the health needs of marginalised patients with the aim of co-production and to make improvements to local health services. I have also volunteered to be part of a sub group of the Bexley Suicide Partnership to further explore inequalities and suicides locally.

I am highly motivated and excited by the opportunity this role provides to continue to work closely with colleagues in Bexley to improve services for local residents.

One specific challenge is the measuring of success, it would be helpful to have a Bexley or wider forum to share knowledge and ideas with other Clinical Care Leads as it is difficult to measure my activity and outputs against others. In the absence of a benchmark for this particular role and no uniformity in relation to similar roles within the wider system such as other clinical care leads.

A further challenge relates to the complexity of the role, it is hugely varied and involves working on many complex and challenging system issues, this therefore needs a commitment to make this happen.

It is also difficult to attribute specific success to the work undertaken in the four hours assigned to the role as success in the role is dependent on other pre-existing factors, such as my local knowledge, partnerships already in place and experience working within the sector.  The functioning of the role would not be possible without these factors.  The role undoubtedly ensures greater connection and further building on these relationships, but the full impact of the role will be better understood after more significant time within it. My holding the role does have other additional benefits as I am able to bringing my unique strengths to the post including my research skills and vast experience of working with marginalised communities in order to bring about change.