Chief Executive's Blog - Being Positive





Industrial Action

If there is a theme to this week’s blog I would have to say it’s pride, both for myself as chief executive of Mersey Care and also my pride in the staff and the outstanding efforts you put in day by day to make this Trust so special.


That has been underlined today by your reaction to the 24-hour strike called by the Prison Officers’ Association (The Professional Trade Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers). I visited Ashworth High Secure Hospital this afternoon with Dr David Fearnley, our Medical Director, and we are comfortable our staffing levels are safe both for patients and staff.


Initial information suggests that more staff turned up for work than we expected and I know other people showed their commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our patients by swapping shifts and coming in on days off. I would like to thank each and every one of you that has done that little bit extra to ensure our services remain unaffected.


The nature of our work is that we care for some of the most complex and vulnerable adults in a hospital setting. In doing so we have established an international and award-winning reputation, with initiatives like our ‘No Force First’ programme underlining our commitment to the minimum use of restrictive practice.


We pride ourselves on ensuring all our staff are highly trained in how to safely manage complicated restraint situations, which should give an indication of how seriously we regarding the incident which led to the dismissal of two staff members earlier this year. We never dismiss staff lightly and always look at all possibilities, but in the light of the evidence we felt we had no other course of action open to us than to dismiss them.


These individuals have now chosen to take us to an independent Employment Tribunal and due legislative process will follow. Given these facts we remain disappointed by the trade union’s decision to take strike action before the external process is complete. We do not believe this is in the best interests of our patients, our carers, our staff and the communities we serve.


Positive Achievement Awards

I started this blog by saying how proud I was to be chief executive of this organisation and that was never better illustrated by last night’s Positive Achievement Awards at the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool. In my time here I have seen how innovative, how committed and, most of all, how caring the staff are at Mersey Care.

Sometimes we can take for granted just how special some of our colleagues are and evenings like last night are useful in underlining those qualities. That goes for the outstanding work by Acorn Ward at Mossley Hill, who won team of the year, for their human rights based care plans to Carol Bernard’s lifetime achievement award and the moving tributes to a much-loved and much-missed Julie Clitheroe; quite rightly our winner of winners on the night. The full list of winners is available here and I have just picked out three highlights from the evening, but as far as I am concerned you are all winners.

I was also delighted to hear Luciana Berger MP, the shadow minister for mental health, speak so passionately about the work we are doing. We have built up a good relationship with her and look forward to working with her more in the future. You can read her full speech here, but I thought she summed up the outstanding contribution you are all making by saying: “You are leading the way for new ways of working in mental health. Most importantly, you are improving people’s lives.”


A final congratulations must go to the communications team, especially Debbie Rigby and Rebecca Kelly, who I know worked so hard to make the evening a success. Nearly everyone I have spoken to about the evening enjoyed themselves, which speaks volumes about the organisation which went into making it such a good night.


Staff Survey

We only have three weeks to go until the 2015 National Staff Survey closes on 27 November, I wanted to thank the 34% of Mersey Care employees who have taken the time to complete the survey and sharing what is good about our organisation and what can be improved.


A secondreminder has now gone out to all staff who wish to complete the survey by e-mail, so for those of you still to do it please look out for the e-mail from “Survey – Mersey Care” in your in-box.


I can assure you all your responses are anonymous and confidential. We would really like to beat our response rate of 56% from last year, which would allow us to award the extra day’s annual leave to two people randomly selected from each Division. It only takes 10 minutes to  complete so please do find the time.


Joe Rafferty

Chief Executive