In Mind: Rowan View and the NHS People Plan feature in the latest blog from Chief Executive Joe Rafferty

The gold standard

I’ve been delighted to hear the excellent reports from those seeing the facilities at Rowan View, our state of the art new medium secure hospital. Visitors are admiring the wonderful sports hall and gym at our medium secure unit. That’s an indication of the success of our efforts to make Maghull Health Park the gold standard in secure care for some of the most vulnerable people in society. If the building itself – stunning as it is – is already amazing people, I can’t wait for the staff, the care pathways and the patient experience in Rowan View to impress them further.

We’re shaping a strong, positive culture there, founded in the experience of colleagues in Scott Clinic, Woodview, across Ashworth and the wider secure service. It will be person-centred and focussed on moving through to a life beyond care. It’s really pleasing to see these early positives from a building we have just taken ownership of from our contractors.

I was also delighted to see our promise to play our part in the community being fulfilled there. Kier Group are reporting good figures for local procurement and local labour during the Rowan View building programme, including more than three times their target number of sustained apprenticeships (33 from an anticipated 10) and other good examples of community engagement.At Southport’s Hartley Hospital, one of the contractors was a young man who had been born there some twenty years or so before when it was a maternity unit. These links to the surrounding areas are important and we want to see the same across all our estates projects: investment which people locally can benefit from, which are especially valuable in the current economic climate. It’s another of our contributions to a healthy community.

We’re also looking to recruit at Rowan View and have a number of varied different vacancies available, so please let friends and relatives know if they want to join such an exciting project. You can access our jobs vacancies here or keep an eye on our jobs Twitter account on @Mersey_CareJobs

A plan for all our people

The NHS Interim People Plan has just been published. It sets out the vision for people who work across the NHS to deliver the Long Term Plan, and the expectation we will look after ourselves as we look after our patients. The document notes growing pressures, including bullying and harassment, with BAME staff reporting some of the poorest workplace experiences. It looks at ways to address this concern and other issues, which I’m sure will resonate whether you work on a ward, in an office, a clinic, in community or if you support those who do.

The report rightly looks at Freedom To Speak Up, whistleblowing, work-life balance, retention and training. There is a challenge to me, the Board and all leaders to be compassionate and inclusive. Harm is caused to the mental health and wellbeing of staff from staffing pressures and from inappropriate cultures. There’s a link in the People Plan to the NHS Staff and Mental Wellbeing Commission document from a year ago. And whilst a lot has changed in healthcare in the last year, even in the last six months, kindness and support are now more critical than they ever were.

Mersey Care’s focus on restorative justice features in the commission’s document. Our experiences put us in a good place following recent events. We will be carrying out some direct engagement with you on this as we review our own Trust people plan: it will be for everyone at every level in Mersey Care, not just for our colleagues in the workforce team or for your manager.

Mental health concerns – ranging from worries over local lockdowns, whether we can get a holiday, safely meet our friends, delays to treatment, missed clinics or whether our job is secure – are increasingly a consequence of the pandemic. The NHS needs to meet this challenge by being strong, robust and caring. Mersey Care is playing its part: our services are open for the public and you can see details on our website.

Supporting the Armed Forces Community

I’m delighted we’ve received the prestigious Employers Armed Forces Covenant Silver Award this week. It comes from the Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme because we are a military friendly employer.

We have a number of initiatives to help strengthen our links with the armed forces community, such as additional paid leave for staff wanting to train as reservists, hosting an annual remembrance event and the introduction of a veterans’ steering group. You may recall it’s not long since we received the bronze award and last month we became one of only four NHS mental health trusts to be given ‘Veteran Aware’ status by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance.

Spotlight on consultant psychiatrists

Our Deputy Medical Director and Director of Medical Education Dr Indira Vinjamuri, was one of the headline speakers at an important Royal College webinar last week alongside senior psychiatrists from across the country. She spoke about experiences of Covid in our acute services. 

As well as a lot of valuable specialist shared learning. I was struck by a comment towards the end of the session. Dr Vinjamuri mentioned the value of video calls which are often better than face to face consultations now since vulnerable people don’t have to wear masks to talk to their clinician. A silver lining indeed and echoed in the feedback about our Attend Anywhere sessions.

It’s also great to see Dr Vinjamuri being nominated for Psychiatric Educator of the Year in the prestigious Royal College of Psychiatrists Awards. The winners are announced on 19 November, so I’m sure we’ll all be wishing her well for that.

What’s next?

Finally, I’m aware of a comment about flu from a Liverpool clinician reported on local radio recently. He’s right to be concerned about how the flu season might impact if there are further outbreaks of Covid in our busiest season. The 2020 flu campaign hasn’t started yet but given our focus on physical PPE and being seen as NHS staff to do the right thing, it’s reasonable to hope as many of you as possible will protect yourself.

This is something we know can be deadly but preventable, so please do so as quickly as you can when the flu vaccinations become available in September. It’s a free gift for all front line staff which could save your life, or someone else’s.

Joe Rafferty CBE

Chief Executive