Showing Courage

We’ve had a very eventful last 12 months as an organisation with a good rating in our CQC report and other awards for Clock View and No Force First, our initiative that aims to reduce restrictive practice in our care.

All those achievements are part of our long-term goal to achieve Perfect Care. At the heart of that is trying to reach the highest possible standards in everything we do, not just in clinical care but also how we deliver our messages to the outside world.

No Force First is one of the key goals of our strategy – mental and physical health and zero suicide are the others – and I was delighted to attend the No Force First Conference at Aintree Racecourse last Monday, which was hosted by Mersey Care.

Staff were invited to the morning session and heard presentations and a talk from former service users, including Ashley Power (see below), and given an insight into why we believe so strongly in its effectiveness for staff and a better patient experience. Those of you who wish to know more about No Force First can view films from staff and service users by clicking here and here, which showcase people who both provide and use our services and have a shared commitment to improve care in a fundamental way.

There were also presentations to over 31 external organisations, people with lived experience and carers in the afternoon as a result of Mersey Care being identified by the Department of Health and the CQC as a leading organisation in this field. 



It’s brilliant that external organisations have taken such an interest in our journey to No Force First, but I know there are senior figures in other organisations (and dare I say even still a few in our own) who still believe that suicide is inevitable and No Force First is unachievable.

It’s when we are confronted with attitudes like those that we need to show our courage on a number of levels:


  • Organisational – the Board must have the serious ambition to make change and turn ideas into reality despite opposition or conflicting views from peers
  • Professional – clinicians and GPs must confront their own practices and practices of others, a difficult challenge to change day to day methods and gently change the system without confrontation
  • Experts by experience – they have given so much to help co-produce practice, having the courage to tell their stories and, in some cases, having the courage to stand up and address and influence large groups of people

Both staff and patients have shown great courage in accepting No Force First and making Mersey Care a better caring environment, just as it takes courage to say, as an organisation that we are not prepared to accept suicides in our care.

Our belief that people who use our services are at the centre of everything we do and are, to use our own Perfect Care terminology, ‘the people we serve’ helps to strengthen our incredible emotional commitment to positive change - whatever the obstacles we may encounter.

It also takes courage to make a stand and say we aim for perfection. Mersey Care has always felt a special place to work and I have always been proud to be its chief executive, but the commitment, dedication and, yes, courage shown in its innovation, makes me all the more delighted to be part of it.

Social Work’s Mental Health Enquiry

Mersey Care was recently invited to give a presentation to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Work’s Mental Health Inquiry at the House of Commons in London. Our presentation was made by Emad Lilo, Mersey Care’s Social Care Professional Lead, and Donna Robinson, Acting Chief Operating Officer for Local Services.

I am told Mersey Care came across very well and the panel members were impressed with the Trust’s innovative approaches. Successes like this can only help strengthen Mersey Care’s reputation as a forward-thinking organisation and gives us an input into national health debates.

Their presentation in London follows the publication of the joint report earlier this year between Mersey Care and Health Education North West into the pressure on councils to deliver on their Care Act duties, which you can access here.

Suicide Prevention Training

Last September, Mersey Care became one of the first NHS Trusts to publicly commit to a zero suicide policy as part of our ambition for Perfect Care. The next stage of that is to introduce mandatory level one suicide prevention training for all staff members of the Trust.

This is a training package which is available on the trusts e- learning platform. It can be done by individuals or as a group learning activity, for example in a team meeting. We hope all staff will have completed their level one training by the end of June 2016.

Your line managers have more information about the training, which will need to be updated every year, and there are also plans to devise a locality safety plan for each Trust site.

Flu Jabs

Now this year’s flu campaign has closed on 29 February, I’d like to thank you all for supporting it and making Mersey Care the second best performing mental health trust in the country at the end of January.

Our response rate, submitted to the national data site earlier this week, was 70.6% which is a really good achievement. We should all be proud of our efforts.

Joe Rafferty

Chief Executive