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Cygnet Health Care announces new appointment to Advisory Board

Stephen Firn

Cygnet Health Care is delighted to announce the appointment of Stephen Firn OBE as an Independent Non-Executive Director to its Advisory Board, bringing with him a wealth of experience in leading quality healthcare services.

Stephen has over 20 years’ experience of NHS Trust Boards in clinical, strategic and chief executive positions, including as CEO of Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, a mental health and community services provider. Until October, he was programme director at NHS England and NHS Improvement, leading a national initiative to support provider collaboratives, and has held policy advisor roles at both the Department for Health and at the Royal College of Nursing.

Stephen said he is looking forward to working with Cygnet. “I want to use my experience to bring a new perspective around the ways Cygnet ensures quality in its services so that it is able to address any concerns and continuously seek improvements. It’s part of my responsibility to look at what is done well and where we have opportunities to do more.

“My first impressions through the people I’ve met so far is that they are open, honest and committed to getting the quality right and excelling in the care they provide to service users.”

Talking about some of the priorities for progressing mental health care provision over the next five years, Stephen said: “One of the things we will learn from the pandemic is how we can use technology to exchange ideas, share information, hold consultations and interact. We can’t replace face-to-face contact so finding the right balance between online and digital therapies and what works best for service provision and patients will be key.”

He also predicted a surge in demand from young people, noting that referrals have doubled in the last year in Surrey alone. “Eating disorders are a particular challenge, as are self-image and body image, and I feel that digital technology and social media has had a big impact.”

Tony Romero, Chief Executive of Cygnet Health Care, said he was thrilled to welcome Stephen to the Advisory Board. “Cygnet is committed to providing safe and effective care in all our services and Stephen’s significant experience will help us continue to innovate, develop and enhance our provision, particularly as new demands are placed on mental health services nationally in the wake of the pandemic. His expertise, along with our other independent directors, will bring fresh ideas and scrutiny to ensure Cygnet is a dynamic, responsive provider of high quality care.”

Stephen remains as a non-executive director and deputy chair at Surrey and Border NHS FT, a board role he has held since 2018, and as a non-executive director at the housing, care and support charity Look Ahead.

During a varied career in health care which began when he joined the NHS as a student psychiatric nurse, Stephen is the recipient of a number of honours, including an Honorary Doctorate from Canterbury Christ Church University for outstanding contribution to public life and an OBE for services to healthcare, particularly mental health.

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