Chief Executive Joe Rafferty's Latest update

Social Care

I’d like to start this week’s blog by offering my congratulations to Emad Lilo, the Trust’s Practice Development/Improvement Lead (Social Care), and the rest of his team for an outstanding social care conference last week at the Lace Conference Centre. It’s the 15th annual conference and this year had the following theme: ‘Human Rights: Mental Health parity with physical health. What is the reality?’

The theme of the conference reminded me of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote on human rights that said:

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

It is an illuminating quote and underlines that if we are to truly value human rights, we must firstly start close to home with our service users, carers and colleagues. It is at the central core of social work and reminds us all of our responsibilities to get this right.

The conference was a great success and attended by over 180 delegates from across the country, with 98% of them evaluating the event as excellent. One delegate left saying: “these conferences make me feeling proud to be a social worker,” so well done to all concerned.

On the back of that, Emad is on his way to New Zealand to speak at the fourth World Congress on Integrated Care, where he will be developing policies to support integration of mental health services and helping to spread Mersey Care’s reputation to the other side of the world.

Suicide Prevention

I have also been championing Mersey Care’s work overseas at the fifth annual Contact Suicide Prevention Conference in Belfast, telling them all about our work on suicide prevention. It was a really engaging session, particularly the section with experts from experience.

My presentation focussed on what we believe was working, but also on what we know hasn’t worked in our road towards zero suicide in our care.

I’m also delighted that around 70% of employees have now completed their mandatory suicide prevention training. Those of you who are yet to do the training, can I please urge you to contact and she can arrange to either visit your team or point you towards the e-learning packages. The training is interesting and informative and we can get all of our staff fully trained, that would send out a major signal towards our ambition for zero suicide in our care.

No Health without Mental Health

Those of you who keep a close eye on the news will know that nine former health secretaries have written to the Times newspaper to urge the Government to honour former Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge to treat mental health on an equal footing with physical health.

While everyone involved in mental health would support those actions, it is clear there are difficult economic times ahead. We have had cuts to our services by the CCGs and we will continue to challenge them, particularly in areas like Liverpool and Merseyside that have high poverty levels and incidents of drugs and alcohol misuse.

We know that according to the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness that patient suicide has remained at a constant level nationally for alcohol and drugs misuse, while Liverpool remains among the highest for these figures in the country.

As a Trust we are happy to look at new ways to care for our patients and service users to try and become more efficient and stretch the tax pound further, and we will continue to challenge cuts to our funding that prevent us from doing that.

CQC Visit

I know it only seems like five minutes since our services were last inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and I’m aware there has been a lot of talk about them making a return inspection in the New Year. It would be wrong to speculate about what will and won’t happen until we have been informed officially, but I will update you on that as soon as possible.

Working in Partnership

Over recent months Mersey Care has been working with local health partners to determine better ways of sharing resources and improving the efficiency of our services.

Those discussions have been particularly encouraging with the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and, as part of that, Mersey Care has agreed to second Joanne Twist, the Deputy Director of Workforce, to Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital to become their Associate Director of Human Resources for a period of six months.

Joanne’s secondment will be overseen by Amanda Oates, Mersey Care’s Director of Workforce, and they will be exploring opportunities to share expertise and good practice across the workforce function of both organisations.

This sharing of resources to reduce costs follows recommendations in the Carter Review  for trusts to find the most efficient allocation of resources. It is also in line with the sustainability and transformation plans agreed by NHS England that encourages trusts to work together to drive genuine and sustainable transformation in patient experience and health outcomes.

Sshhh…..Guess who’s coming


I know some of us are still to get around to organising our Christmas shopping, but I’ve had a message from Lapland and a very special guest and his elves have confirmed they will visit the Life Rooms on Saturday, 10 December between 11 and 3pm.

There will be festive refreshments, arts, music and games and children’s entertainment available between 12.30pm and 2pm. We’ve done very well to get him to come along so please go along and support this event - after all it’s his busy time of year!

Safety in Town

I’d like to thank the businesses of Whalley, near our Specialist Learning Disability Division site. Stephen, one of service users, has signed up seven major shops, including many of the outlets familiar to those with leave such as the post office, café and the newsagents, to the Safety in Town scheme. This is about displaying a sign – and having the right attitude - to be a safe, supportive place for people who may feel vulnerable when they are out.

Stephen’s positive approach enabled us to ensure that when our service users are developing their links in the local area, they can be assured of a friendly welcome and somewhere secure if they need help.