Towards the end of last year, we started a feature on the website where we speak to one of the NELFT Non-Exectutive Directors. The aim was to find out about their roles, their views on the Trust and what skills they bring to the organisation. This month we are featuring Sultan Taylor, to find out about his time working for the Metropolitan Police as a Borough Commander and to uncover how he has found working as a NELFT NED over the last 12 months.
Hi Sultan. You’ve been a Non-Executive Director since April 2017 – how have you found the experience so far?
I have found the experience to be very enriching. I have met many staff who I have the utmost respect for and there is no doubt our staff have a high work ethic, demonstrating high levels of care and quality of service - despite ever increasing pressures. I was very pleased to see that all the hard work has been recognised by the CQC Inspection awarding the overall ‘Good’ grade. I know that this recognition has been earned over years and not just the last 12 months.
I have visited a number of wards and have seen first-hand how our staff work in a difficult environment - a number of patients thought I was the visiting doctor!
Your background was with the police - as Borough Commander of both Havering and Barking & Dagenham, have you been able to use your specialist knowledge to benefit the Trust?
I have been pleased to see that my police background as a Borough Commander in charge of four different commands and my detective training has been very useful in the NELFT operating environment. An example has been where I have recently chaired two serious incident panels, it is refreshing to see that our focus is on learning and not apportioning blame, my investigative background has been most useful to understand the whole process and developing recommendations. As a Non-Executive Director, one of my roles is to independently challenge, and again I feel that my police background has helped myself to constructively challenge with always the aim to try and improve services for our staff and service users.
In your career with the police, the role of policing will have changed – was there one change that you were most proud of being a part of?
I was most proud of my work as Havering Borough Commander, when I took over it was the worst performing Borough. When I left three years on, it was the best out of the 32 Boroughs. This was achieved through genuine partnership and engagement with all key agencies and our community. The specific example that illustrates this was the work completed in Romford town centre. The situation that I inherited was, from a crime perspective: it was the fourth worst town centre for violent crime across London. The fear of crime was very high, with our community calling urgent meetings as there had been serious stabbings and a recent murder. Around 12,000 young visitors regularly attended the town centre on Thursday to Sunday. Feedback from young people was that there were no local facilities to use and the policing of the town centre was not consistent. Buses refused to run through the centre, Licensed Premises were too dense and were being operated in a profit-centred way - rather than a safe and community focussed way.
I held a partnership meeting with our community and key stakeholders to develop a long-term plan to reduce crime and improve community safety. The following actions happened over time, the police capacity was enlarged by increasing the Special Constables who took long-term ownership with regular constables. Licensed premises that were not operating safely were targeted and closed down, the local authority set up a skate park for young people and installed an alley gating scheme, a local vicar developed youth activities, the local businesses contributed to a marshalling scheme, safeguarding visitors away from the town centre. I also introduced a Pastors scheme whereby the local community walked around the town centre and gave support to all who needed it. As a result of these actions and the genuine partnership activity, violence and the fear of crime reduced over times, the buses returned and the licensees now operated their businesses to a high standard with some receiving awards.
When you joined the Trust, you were keen to work on improving the diversity of the organisation – have you seen improvements so far?
I have seen the work by the Trust in diversity being taken forward with the BME network thriving and the launch of the LGBT plus network, and I proudly wear the newly issued lanyard. It is also very pleasing to see staff from minority backgrounds developing and some gaining promotion.
At one BME forum, I shared my journey through the police service explaining how to overcome some of the institutional barriers. I am pleased to see the proactive approach in NELFT.
In the time that you’ve been with NELFT, we’ve seen the CQC rating improve. As a Non-Executive Director what have you seen improve since you started.
I am very pleased to see the results of the recent staff survey, and also the increased staff engagement forums and events. At a recent Board meeting I could see that there was real momentum to take forward suggestions from our staff. I will be keen to see how these are taken forward.
Also of note has been the work by the Quality Improvement team, the bottom up approach has been very successful where staff have come up with new innovative solutions. A few months ago I attended a Clinical Audit awareness presentation and again I was most impressed with our team.
Are there any areas that the Trust still needs to work on?
I feel that while we continue with our improvements and expansion we need to ensure that the focus on patient care is at the heart of all our work, and that compliance and monitoring of our service delivery in mental and physical health is promoted to give assurance that our service users continue to receive a great service by NELFT.
As the NED lead for Essex, it is important to remember that our service is well established in Essex and I look forward to seeing the partnership and collaboration with other service providers to develop.
In the future I would also like to see volunteering increased across the Trust.
I have enjoyed my first year in my role as a NED and will continue to help support our aim to deliver the best service by the best people.
What do you do in your spare time to unwind?
I unwind by playing tennis, going for walks, playing Scrabble, watching my favourite shows on TV and going to the theatre. I have always had a keen interest in most sports, I confess to being a Chelsea fan! I also enjoy coaching and I am an active tennis coach.
Thanks to Sultan for his time, the honest answers and admitting he supports Chelsea.
If you would like to read the previous Non-Executive Director interview, with Amanda Lewis, click here: https://www.nelft.nhs.uk/news-events/news20180125interviewwithnonexecutivedirectoramandalewis-2770