THE CHIEF executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust’s has been awarded an MBE The Queen in recognition of her dedication and passion for helping patients during a career spanning more than three decades.
Mel Coombes, given the prestigious title in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, has worked for the NHS for 36 years.
She started out as a staff nurse in 1987 and since January has been the Chief Executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust (CWPT), the lead provider of mental health, learning disabilities, autism and physical community health services in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Mel is passionate about improving the lives of people with mental health needs and people with a learning disability, and in 2002 she became one of the first Consultant Nurses for people with learning disabilities. In this role she informed national policy, pioneered work around health inequalities and co-authored a range guidance to support the continuous professional development of the learning disability nursing profession.
Some of Mel’s many achievements include advising on the development of a national competency framework for mental health nursing , being the Lead Director for a new service model for the care and treatment of adults with learning disabilities and being nominated into a leadership role on the development and delivery of the ‘All-England Plan for Learning Disability and Mental Health Nursing’.
She first moved into a leadership position as Assistant Director of Nursing in 2005 and progressed to an Executive Director of Nursing position in a complex Mental Health and Community Foundation Trust in 2012. In 2019 Mel took up the combined role of Chief Nurse and Chief Operating Officer with Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust where she is now the Chief Executive.
Mel said: “When I first opened the letter I was in shock, I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to receive this recognition.
“I owe a lot to my family, friends and of course my colleagues who have supported me throughout and have continued to show their commitment, compassion and have gone above and beyond during the pandemic. I couldn’t be prouder of the wonderful teams I work with.”
Over the past year and a half, Mel has been central to CWPT’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and instrumental in ensuring that the trust has consistently ensured the safety of patients and staff whilst continuing to deliver services.
Mel said: “I have the absolute honour of being the Chief Executive for CWPT and making sure we support our colleagues, our patients and their families from the local communities we serve; making sure we do everything possible to give great care and be a great place to work.
“I cannot think of a more rewarding role and I can honestly say I am very proud of everyone at CWPT and the patients, especially during the past year which has been very difficult for everyone.
“They all make me want to do better and strive for the best.”
Jagtar Singh, Chair of CWPT, said: “We are immensely proud of Mel, who is so deserving of this recognition.
“All of our staff are passionate about offering the very best care for our patients and families, but you would have to go a long way to find anyone more motivated and standards-driven than Mel.
“We are so fortunate to have her as our leader and we look forward to her day at the Palace when we will share in her joy and achievement.”
Until taking up her current role as Chief Executive Mel was also the Chair of the National Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Nurse Director Forum and has played a critical role in ensuring the voices of mental health and learning disability service users and staff have been heard. She also ensured policy decisions at national level have reflected any specific needs of these service areas.
Mel will receive her award at a ceremony later in the year.