Strategy and progress

DIGBQ logo and road map

Our plans and priorities

On this page you will find out more about NHFT's plans and priorities.

This includes our Annual Plan as well as our Trust strategy, DIGBQ, and what it means for teamNHFT and you.

Our Annual Plan

Each year, NHFT produces an Annual Plan setting out the Trust's focus and actions for the year ahead.

Our Annual Plan details how we will work towards our vision to be a leading provider of outstanding, compassionate care.

It also explains how we will focus on the delivery of the NHS's national priorities, as well as the local health and care priorities set out by NHS Northamptonshire Integrated Care Board.

NHFT Annual Plan 2024-25 [pdf] 3MB


It is NHFT’s vision ‘To be a leading provider of outstanding, compassionate care.’ It is this vision that we are always striving towards through our work every day. Our Trust strategy, DIGBQ describes what we need to achieve to reach our vision. We like to think of DIGBQ as the different rooms or levels in a house, coming together to help us reach our vision which is the roof. Our vision, and our strategy, are just two of the important points on our 54321 roadmap of NHFT. Mission Roadmap[pdf] 180KB

Our overarching DIGBQ strategy sets our focus for a number of years. Different areas of the Trust will also regularly publish enabling plans and strategies that set out the work and objectives in their areas in more detail, for example, our annual Operating Plan.

DIGBQ refresh 2022-2025

The NHS is facing some of the biggest challenges in its history and these are shaping how we continue to build a resilient and sustainable organisation. Because of this, in 2021 we began work to renew our DIGBQ strategy, taking the opportunity to reflect on and learn from our recent experiences. As we have done previously, we have engaged with NHFT colleagues, members, Governors and stakeholders to develop a refreshed DIGBQ framework for 2022-2025. We are confident that this updated strategy will enable NHFT as a Trust to achieve what we need to in order to reach our vision.

Please click here to read our refreshed DIGBQ strategy document and find out more about what NHFT will be focused on from 2022-2025.

For more documents and information about our Trust visit our Documents policies and procedures page.


Use the boxes below to learn more about each DIGBQ section:

Develop in partnership

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Develop in partnership

Led by David Williams, Director of Strategy and Business Development

Develop in Partnership is focused on how we want to strengthen our existing working relationships within the county, for example with GPs, and build new relationships in the county and beyond so we can deliver more joined up services to people in our communities.

Over the last few years we have developed a number of local and regional partnerships. This includes our buddy relationship which has progressed to a formal Group model with Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust - we are now known as the Leicestershire Partnership and Northamptonshire Healthcare Group - through which we share a number of strategic priorities, as well as benefit from each other's learning and experiences.

NHFT has recently taken on the lead provider role in the regional Children and young people’s Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Tier 4 provider collaborative, which aims to reduce unnecessary inpatient stays for young people in the East Midlands. You can find out more about how the Provider Collaborative works and what it plans to achieve by watching this Q&A with Clinical Director Dr Sachin Sankar.  

We are supporting other collaboratives in the Northamptonshire system to develop integrated care across the county and improve Children and Young People’s Services and planned care services. NHFT has taken a lead role in another system collaborative to transform the outcomes for service users accessing mental health, learning disability and wellbeing services, delivered by the voluntary and community sector, local authorities and the NHS:


Some other recent examples of us Developing in Partnership include:


Innovate road sign


Led by Dr Itai Matumbike, Medical Director

Innovate is one of the key areas of our DIGBQ strategy. We have achieved so much in the last few years, and want your thoughts on what we should be prioritising next.

We are constantly innovating and researching, to find new ways to provide outstanding, compassionate and safe services. We have many examples of how NHFT has innovated over the last few years, for example the award winning Body Worn Cameras project that was piloted on our inpatient mental health wards. During this study, 12 cameras were trialled by 60 staff for three months across five wards and feedback was collected from staff and patients via focus groups and questionnaires.

83% of patients felt the cameras were of benefit, describing the main positives as  safety for everyone, respect for staff and accurate recording of incidents. Staff reflected that they were able to use the footage to learn about behaviour triggers and improve response. 

Another example of innovation at NHFT is the introduction of electronic consent processes for school-aged immunisations. This partnership initiative between NHFT's 0-19 team and LGSS saw development of a digital solution to collect parental consent for the vaccination of children for the Trust's 0-19 service, who deliver immunisations, immunisation facilitators and clinical colleagues. 

Traditionally, parents would fill out paper-based forms and return to their child’s school, however, this often results in delays which can mean consent is not in place when the vaccination is due. This in turn results in on-going risks to child health, as well as the need for additional staff time to cover postponed vaccinations.

Working closely in partnership, LGSS, NHFT communications team, and the 0-19 team developed an electronic form to collect consent online and make it available immediately to the health professionals who need it.  This efficient solution prevents delays, and also avoids costs such as postage charges.

Through the pandemic, our teams have innovated in order to keep providing the outstanding compassionate care NHFT is known for. For example, our School nurses have provided virtual wellbeing workshops for school-aged children. We also continue to research and pilot new projects and ideas, such as our Be Mindful pilot webinars and Well Track sleep health study

Grow our staff capability

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Grow our staff capability

Led by Chris Oakes, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development

Grow is the third key area of our DIGBQ strategy. We have achieved so much in the last few years, and want your thoughts on what we should be prioritising next.

We know that in order for our colleagues to deliver the outstanding, compassionate care that we aspire to, they also need to be cared for themselves. This area of the Trust strategy is all about supporting our staff to ensure they feel included and happy at work; listened to; and have opportunities to develop. We have worked hard over the last few years on our wellbeing, equality and diversity, and learning and development programmes of work in order to create a nationally-recognised working culture based on distributed leadership, learning and compassion.

Have you been to one of our Wellbeing Festivals in the last few years? Whether in-person in 2018 and 2019, or virtually in 2020 and 2021, these festivals have created time and space for colleagues to prioritise their wellbeing and try new things.

We have delivered a number of initiatives on equalitty, diversity and inclusion, including our successful Reverse Mentoring programme which sees Exec Board members and other NHFT senior leaders be mentored by colleagues from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. This helps our senior leaders to understand the challenges faced by BAME colleagues, and in turn contributes to us developing a more inclusive culture for NHFT. Other work that the Trust has undertaken to improve equality in the workforce including the launch of our PRIDE values was noted by the Care Quality Commission in 2019. 

We were extremely proud to win the Health Service Journal's Staff Engagement Award in 2019, which was based on our Let's Talk Plan to encourage colleagues to tlk about their experiences so we were able to make improvements and shape the way we work together. You can find out more by watching the video below:


Build a sustainable organisation

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Build a sustainable organisation

Led by Richard Wheeler, Chief Finance Officer 

Sustainability is important, and we are looking after our future by finding new ways of working, being productive, resilient and agile. One recent example of this is how quickly and expertly our Digital Technology Services team rolled out functionality to allow many colleagues to work and deliver services remotely during the pandemic. Because of this, many corporate and administrative teams are able to work from home, and many clnical teams have been able to provide consultations and group therapy via phone or video call. This has not only helped to keep everyone safe, but the learnings from this are informing how we work now and into the future, and allowing us to use physical space more effectively.

NHFT is committed to becoming a sustainable healthcare provider by delivering high quality care and improved public health without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage. The Trust understands that being a low carbon organisation is important to help reduce the adverse effects of climate change on human health.To this end the Trust has established a variety of ongoing projects to support the journey to a sustainable healthcare provider. 

At NHFT, we understand that to deliver our vision of outstanding and compassionate care, we need to put people first. With this in mind, we were pleased to launch New Ways of Working earlier this year; our framework to support flexible working that delivers on what teamNHFT have asked for and what NHS England has promised, as well as ensuring we carry on providing the outstanding care we are known for and our service users expect. 

Flexibility does not just mean working from home, but offers greater choice of working patterns and locations to improve productivity, wellbeing, and work/life balance.


Quality and safety at the foundation of everything we do

Quality and safety road sign

Quality and safety at the foundation of everything we do

Led by Julie Shepherd, Chief Nurse

'Quality and Safety at the foundation of everything we do' means making sure we remain focused on meeting the needs of our population with services that are safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well-led. Over the last few years, we have held a number of Quality Improvement conferences and a Keep Everyone Safe Week for staff to share learnings and inspire each other. Watch the video below to learn more about the week which included roadshows and events across the countywide Trust:


Our commitment to quality improvement and safety has seen NHFT recognised nationally by NHS England for our system of supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) to all of our sites within Northamptonshire and beyond, over a 150-mile radius, throughout the pandemic.

At NHFT, we work hard to create a culture where staff can openly raise any concerns they might have to ensure that as a trust, we continue to prioritise safety, drive change and develop our services. To do this, it is so important that colleagues feel psychologically safe to speak up, and we have addressed this by expanding our Freedom to Speak Up champions network to include underrepresented staff groups from across the Trust. Our commitment to Freedom to Speak Up has led to NHFT being ranked 3rd highest Trust in the country for this work. 

Learning lessons is a key part of safety and quality improvement - and we do both at NHFT via our staff Learning Lessons zone. Whether from incidents that have taken place within NHFT, or externally, we can always learn and improve.