Oxford Health has created a new board level role to lead mental health and learning disability services through the transition of providing more joined up ‘integrated’ care across health and social care systems in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bath & North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire.

The managing director of mental health position has been created to support local delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan, and builds on discussions with key partners, including Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

We’re pleased to announce that Debbie Richards has been appointed to this role, bringing with her 20 years’ senior level experience in clinical service delivery, commissioning and transformation across health and social care, most recently as a director at Buckinghamshire CCG.

Oxford Health Chief Executive Stuart Bell said: “I’d like to welcome Debbie to her new role at Oxford Health. It’s a really important step in the development of integrated care for mental health services across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and beyond. Debbie brings a wealth of experience from working with service providers and commissioners and a professional background as a mental health social worker.

“This role comes about at a key time, with the government’s national commitment to mental health set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.”

Debbie Richards said: “I am delighted and honoured to be offered this role. I look forward to joining the Board and to working with the dedicated and hard-working mental health and learning disabilities staff across Oxford Health, and our wider health and care system partners to progress our ambitions towards more integrated care, so that we make care a joint endeavour between professionals, people who use our services and their family and friends.”

Oxford Health’s community physical health services are also limbering up for more integrated working across Oxfordshire with our acute, primary and social care colleagues and Stuart Bell has said: “Given the importance of this work, I will be directly supporting the directorate leads to take that work forwards.”

Louise Patten, Chief Executive for Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire CCGs said: “Debbie’s professional social worker background and experience working in the NHS within mental health, acute hospital care and commissioning makes her the ideal person to take on this new role. I strongly believe that this supports our intention to move towards a delegated mental health budget, as this is the best approach to ensure safe, good quality care for service users across our counties.”

Debbie took up her position as MD of Mental Health on Monday, July 22