Chief Executive's Blog: Working Together

The Crisp Report


Mental health was in the news again this week with the release of the Independent Commission report, headed by Lord Crisp, into mental health services in England. It highlighted the fact that severely ill adults should not be sent to hospitals out of area because of local bed shortages and proposes the practice should end by October 2017.



We share the concerns about inpatient bed availability for patients and we continue to work closely with commissioners on this. At Mersey Care we are committed to building modern services which should ensure shorter lengths of stay with high quality care, but the biggest single problem we face is that the funding we receive does not reflect the complexity of the patient’s needs that we serve.



Regular readers of this blog will know we have ambitions to build two more mental health facilities in Merseyside to follow the 80-bed Clock View hospital, which became fully operational nearly a year ago. We hope that will alleviate bed pressures, subject of course to us receiving planning permission and funding.



The Report, titled ‘Old Problems, New Solutions’, which you can read here, also includes a Government pledge that patients face a maximum four hour wait for admission to an acute ward or for home-based treatment and fewer delayed discharges from hospitals.



Here at Mersey Care we do everything we can to reduce waiting times before assessment and we welcome measures to address that, but they should not be introduced at the expense of our services. This report only serves to highlight how mental health is still struggling for parity with physical health. Both the extent of out of area beds and the length of waiting times would not be regarded as acceptable for any other part of the NHS than mental health.



I have already begun discussions with our commissioners about taking forward these recommendations, particularly focussing on reviewing whether capacity meets demand. It is easy to jump to the conclusion that the easy answer is more beds but I think we also need to focus on a range of services before, during and after admission.


Congratulations for Calderstones



I’d like to offer my congratulations to our colleagues over at Calderstones after they received a ‘good’ rating by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).



Their rating represents a significant improvement after their initial inspection raised concerns and shows the benefits of working together as colleagues towards a common goal. This is a perfect example of Trusts demonstrating they are bigger than the sum of their parts, sharing skills and good practice and experience and delivering better care for patients.


We pride ourselves on innovation and developing new and more efficient ways of working at Mersey Care and we have enjoyed sharing good practice with Calderstones. This positive news establishes that service users will receive the highest quality care in the new organisation.



I believe this is a great advert for how Trusts can work together successfully to drive massive change. Calderstones were able to shortcut a lot of the learning by engaging with us, but it was always a two-way process and we’ve also learned a lot. For example, Calderstones has taught us a lot about information management.



Sometimes when two Trusts come together it felt like one of them were having their arms twisted, but if this experience has taught us anything is that the attitude of both parties is crucial to making it work. We have shown that two organisations can come together and achieve progress without their relationship having to be oppositional.



Many of you will already know that following the announcement last year by Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, Calderstones will cease to exist from July this year and Mersey Care intend to take over their services. Further information will be provided to staff of both Trusts in due course.



BBC coverage



The BBC start a week of programmes about mental health next week, titled “All in the mind.” As part of their coverage, Mersey Care have been asked to contribute on BBC Radio Merseyside, which begins with Rev Sara Doyle, the Clock View chaplain, being interviewed shortly after 8.00am on Sunday.



Iris Benson, our expert with experience, is being interviewed on the Tony Snell breakfast show on Monday shortly after 7.30am talking about her recent MBE presentation and her views on mental health. The final interview, again on the breakfast show on Friday, will be some of our young carers talking about the support they receive from Mersey Care, Liverpool CCG and Barnardo’s.