Chief Executive's Update: Joe Rafferty discusses a week of success for Mersey Care

I’m delighted to be able to write a blog this week that is full of good news for Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. Because of the nature of our business and the challenges ahead for the NHS, it often feels like we are in a constant battle, so it’s great to be able to write this week’s blog all about celebration.

Trust Accolade

I’d like to start this week by highlighting the fact that Mersey Care were highly commended in the prestigious Health Service Journal’s (HSJ) Awards Provider of the Year category earlier this week, which is an outstanding achievement. When you look back we’ve had quite a year as an organisation with achieving Foundation status, being awarded a ‘good’ rating in the inspection of our services by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and acquiring Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which is now our Specialist Learning Disability Division.

I’ve said before in this blog that quite often we don’t have time to reflect on our successes, which is why the HSJ recognition is so timely. I’d like to thank everyone who worked on putting the submission together and everyone else around the Trust, who makes it such an innovative and inspiring place to work.

South Sefton Community Health

As you know, the focus within the NHS at present is for trusts to work together as part of the sustainability and transformation plans, which was highlighted by the announcement of how we are discussing options to work closer with Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust last week.

In addition to working together, if trusts are to survive they also need to expand their horizons which is why we have bid successfully in recent years for the Talk Liverpool and Ambition Sefton contracts. I’m delighted to also announce that we have now been awarded the contract for South Sefton Community Health in partnership with 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

I’m absolutely delighted we’ve been chosen to deliver these services for the people of South Sefton. The tender process has created an ideal opportunity to further develop and improve the way we work with partner organisations. Now our plan is to deliver a coordinated programme of integrated healthcare with the aim of producing better outcomes and ensuring that patient care remains central to everything we do.

This is in line with our commitment to integrate physical and mental health care, which is consistent with South Sefton’s CCG ‘Shaping Sefton’ programme for community centred health and care. We often say there is no health without mental health and it’s great now that South Sefton’s residents can hopefully see this ambition achieved.

Windsor House

In keeping with the positive news, it was good to read all about local artist Philip Hayes speak so positively about his care at Windsor House in an article in the Liverpool Echo this week. You can read the full article here but it brought home to me what an impact we have on people’s lives.

We can sometimes take this for granted but when someone says: “I needed to find a safe place to get better, so thank God for the NHS – and thank God for the Windsor House,” you know that you’re doing an exceptional job. I often say our staff are unsung heroes, which brings me nicely to last night’s awards evening.

Positive Achievement Awards

I know there are some people out there that will criticise us for even holding the Positive Achievement Awards in a time of austerity, but I thought it was another excellent night and seemed to be enjoyed by everyone.


For those out there that think that even one night a year to celebrate outstanding work is too much, I’d like to say that a substantial part of the cost was raised through sponsorship. I’d like to thank all the sponsors for supporting the event and two of our local MPs, Rosie Cooper MP and Luciana Berger MP, for freeing up their busy diaries to attend. A special thanks must also go to Roger Phillips from BBC Radio Merseyside for being a great host for the evening.

There will always be people criticising us for holding the awards and arguing that any money the Trust provides towards the evening could be spent on other things. I would say that we are not a Trust that provides tea and coffee for our staff or on other staff benefits that may be provided in other organisations.

Instead, we invest heavily in staff, in learning and development so they improve their skills and, as an organisation, our high standards of care keep improving as a result of that investment. Given all that, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to set aside one evening a year for those attending to celebrate the excellence of their colleagues and let their hair down for a few hours.

As an organisation we are open 24/7 and 365 days a year with many of you on the frontline caring for some of the most challenging and vulnerable patients within the healthcare system. Unfortunately not every one of you can go to the awards evening and many of you will probably have been working.

The Positive Achievement Awards is not an excuse for a party, but an evening of celebration for outstanding staff, who innovate and show a level of commitment that continually makes me proud to be Chief Executive of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. There were many nominations and a number of winners during the evening, but I regard everyone at Mersey Care as a winner for continually finding new ways and means to improve mental health care standards in this country even while our funding is diminished.

The full list of winners are below and there are pictures and an account of the evening on the website, which you can access here.

Innovation Award – The Life Rooms team

Improving the Service User Experience Award – John Gerrard

Outstanding in Support Services Award – Christine Smith

Recovery Champion Award – the service user Media Crew

Health and Wellbeing Campaigner Award – Musician in Residence Programme

Commitment in Clinical Care Award – The Beacon Personality Disorder Treatment Unit

Your Choice Award – Early Intervention Team’s Allotment Group

Lifetime Achievement Award – Barbara Welch

Chairman’s Award – Brian and Martin Murphy

Employee of the Year – Klark Cowperthwaite

Team of the Year Award– Allerton Ward, LSU Rathbone

Winner of Winners Award – Christine Smith