Those of you who work in and around V7 will know that I have been absent this week because of a trip to China alongside other NHS chief executives. The trip has been organised and funded by Healthcare UK, which is part of the Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry, and has been a great chance to examine the current opportunities in China, evaluate how projects could be delivered and offer our guidance and expertise.
As we move towards becoming a Foundation Trust, exploring different income streams – particularly from the overseas markets – is something we need to consider. The historians among you will know there are strong links between Merseyside and China and Liverpool has been twinned with Shanghai for some time, a link that was always intended to build on the historic trade links between the two cities.
I hope my trip to China will be an extension of that. China has a state-funded healthcare system and I have been looking for opportunities both to learn from them and offer Mersey Care’s talent for innovation and expertise. I have been particularly focussing on our addictions and our dementia and elderly health programmes, both of which are of interest to China, and hope to give you a fuller account of my trip on my return next week.
Although I have been away this week, I have kept in touch with events at Mersey Care and I was encouraged to hear our Big Brew campaign caught the attention once again on ‘Brew Monday.’ I am told Dr David Fearnley and Amanda Oates did interviews for local radio and television and I have seen for myself how active our social media accounts have been this week.
Because of the significance of 18 January – the third Monday of the year is supposed to be the day when people feel at their lowest following Christmas etc – we naturally focus a lot of our efforts for the Big Brew campaign on that day.
Although we concentrate on attempting to raise awareness on that particular day, I think it’s important that we use the message of the Big Brew – talking over your problems over a cup of tea or coffee can be the first steps to accessing help – to reinforce the importance of early intervention to recovery not just for that day, but for the whole year.
It’s such an important message that I would like to encourage you all to continue downloading the free packs on the website, which you can access here. You can also find materials there which will help you stage a tea/coffee event and we are also encouraging everyone to add the #Twibbon to their profile picture on Facebook and Twitter. The instructions for re-sizing the Big Brew icon can be found here.
All these efforts help us battle against the stigma. It is not so long ago that people were afraid to talk about cancer, let alone admit they may have the disease. By talking about it and making it more socially acceptable, cancer has become a distressing but standard topic of conversation. That is what we want to achieve with mental health and it is only through campaigns like the Big Brew we are going to be able to do that.
In addition to ‘Brew Monday’, other events are in the pipeline during the course of the year and we are already planning the return of the Big Brew Talk Walk, the highly successful event at Aintree last September when Mersey Care staff, carers, service users and friends walked 5km around Aintree Racecourse to raise awareness of mental health.
Changes for Local Division
Congratulations to Donna Robinson who will be taking up a six month interim post of director of operation for the local services division as of 25 January.
Karen Lawrenson will continue to support Donna during this period but all operational issues should be directed to Donna as from this Monday. Lynn Hughes has also been appointed as deputy chief operating officer for Liverpool for six months to cover Donna.