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In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Raffery provides his latest update on flu jabs and going smoke free

I make no apology for starting this week’s blog by writing about flu jabs for the second week running. Last week I urged as many of you as possible to ‘join the flu resistance,’ and the Executive Board have shown their commitment to the campaign by having their injections this week.

You may all have seen various media reports about a particularly nasty strain of flu that may reach us this winter. We have followed all the latest guidance and advice on how best to tackle it, and the best way of combatting any of the flu strains is for as many of you as possible to have your jab.

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As an organisation we’ve done exceptionally well over the last few years with 75% of you getting an injection last year – well above the national average. This year it looks like the threat of flu could be more profound, and we are doing as much as possible here at Mersey Care to make sure it’s easy for all you to get an injection.

We have trained an extra 73 people who are able to provide flu jabs for anyone who wants them and I’d delighted that we have got off to a good start already.

At the end of the first full week, we’re already at 10 per cent you will see on all of our social media channels that we are starting to upload pictures of people getting their jab. You can follow this through the hash tag #JabWellDone.

Smoke Free

Many of you will have read the recent blog written by Peter Terry, the Trust’s Smoking Cessation Lead, who informed you all that we had decided to delay the date of Mersey Care becoming a completely smoke free organisation until 2 October.

That date is now upon us and, although I am sure many of you will be aware of the change on Monday, I wanted you all to understand the reasons for this Trust for taking this decision.

We have been working towards becoming a smoke free trust since July 2008, in line with guidelines set down by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 2013, who recommended that all NHS funded secondary care sites should become completely smoke free. This has been supported by Public Health England (PHE), who have published guidance for commissioners recommending that all medium and secure units progress towards providing care in completely smoke free buildings and grounds.

The decision to delay the final phase of implementation in Specialist Learning Disability and Local Divisions, due to begin on 4 September, was not taken lightly. We responded to new evidence and guidance which indicated that e-cigarettes can be used to support people with the challenges of withdrawal.

We have also responded to the opinions and concerns of the people we serve, some of whom say e-cigarettes may help them make this critical healthy lifestyle choice. After consulting the latest guidance we’re now satisfied that any safety concerns in this area can be addressed effectively.

All those reasons are good ones for becoming a smoke free organisation, but above all we also have a duty of care to all our service users, patients, carers and staff to look after their health and wellbeing.

What this will mean is that as from Monday, service users, carers and visitors will not be able to smoke anywhere on Trust premises. Also staff, as per current policy, will not be allowed to smoke outside traditional breaks but will be encouraged to access Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) during work hours.

Congratulations

Well done to the IV Therapy team based at Litherland Town Hall Health Centre for winning the Innovation for Practice Learning Award from Edge Hill University.

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The team provide South Sefton patients with conditions such as liver disease, bone infections or cellulitis with antibiotics that are directly injected into their veins. The treatment is administered at home or within a community health centre and aims to prevent patients being admitted into hospital.

It’s a great effort to be recognised in this way and shows that Christine Roberts and her team are providing an environment that challenges but also accelerates the learning of their student placements.

I’d also like to wish good luck to our Criminal Justice Liaison and Diversion Team (CJLT), who have been nominated in the ‘Organisation of the Year’ category for the Howard League awards, which are annual awards that recognise the country’s most successful community projects that encourage desistance from crime.

The CJLT team will find out in November if they have won and provide an all-age (aged 10 upwards), all common vulnerabilities service. They can offer intervention, liaison, support and guidance to individuals coming into contact with the criminal justice system at the earliest point (of arrest) with the aim of reducing re-offending and having a positive impact on these people’s lives. They also provide these services at court should cases progress to this stage, as well as a wealth of wrap-around services.

Mersey Care has also been shortlisted – alongside Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust – for the best nursing technology award in the EHI Awards. Good luck to everyone involved in all the awards.

Hope Centre

On Tuesday I was privileged to be among the guests at the opening of our new Hope Centre on the Smithdown Health Park, Liverpool. It’s been a great effort by staff from the Estates and Corporate teams and wider Local Services Division, who supported an amazing transformation of the old Kevin White Unit into the Hope Centre, for people needing inpatient detox for drug and or alcohol misuse.

The new name was chosen by staff and service users to reflect the strong sentiment that ‘hope’ should be in all our patient journeys and our daily working practice as individuals who support them.

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It was also a lovely touch to recognise the contribution of one NHS staff member at the opening. The first dedicated drugs clinic in Liverpool was opened at the former Sefton General Hospital site (where the Hope Centre now stands) and was later converted into the Kevin White Unit in 1996. In recognition of the role the late Dr Kevin White played, we have named the Hope Centre’s outdoor space the Kevin White Memorial Garden.

I was delighted his daughter, Mrs Fiona Shaw, was able to travel from her home in Scotland to unveil a new plaque in her father’s memory and we were able to present her with the original Kevin White Unit plaque from 21 years ago as a family keepsake.