Setting standards

Another name for discrimination

Regular readers of this blog will know that Mersey Care NHS Trust is fighting an on-going battle against the stigmatisation of mental health and the way it is regarded in modern society. That includes the way patients are treated and cared for and fighting for equal distribution of funds to ensure mental health patients get the same opportunities as their physical health counterparts.
That is one of the reasons why Clock View hospital is such a great stride forward for mental health care. People’s images of mental health hospitals are of asylums, big red brick buildings with peeling paint which take away people’s freedoms. At Clock View we have a state of the art facility that resembles a modern hotel and provides parity with the standards of care that we come to regard as the norm in physical health.
Given the feelgood effect that the opening of Clock View has given us all, it was very disappointing to discover the stigma of mental health is alive and well and living within the NHS. I have heard it inferred that Clock View is 'over the top' for mental health patients; others say why have inpatient facilities when mental illness is just a 'fact of life?' Again this week, I have seen the need for more investment marginalised in favour of competing priorities without any real understanding of the needs of people with serious mental illness. 
People in senior roles within the NHS make big decisions about finance, about jobs and about the redistribution of finance within the organisation. Some of them may have very little knowledge about the impact of mental health or the proportion of society that need care for mental health problems. What I would say to them is that it is about time they took the effort to find out!
Stigma is just another name for discrimination and we should not tolerate it in the NHS, in the park, at the football or anywhere in a modern society. We should all make it our mission to end that stigma, stop the discrimination, so that a patient with mental health problems can expect the same level of care and treatment that you would get if you were admitted to hospital for any physical ailment.
Preparing for CQC
You will all know by now that Mersey Care will have an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in June and, as we draw nearer that date, it is important we are well prepared. As part of that you will soon be receiving a questionnaire to complete from the Good Governance Institute (GGI).
Their job is to highlight areas of concern so we can rectify them before the inspection. I know it still seems some time away, but it is important we make sure our standards are as high as possible. How would we all feel if there were areas of the CQC that were highlighted in red just because we were not prepared?
The people from the GGI are not inspectors, they are our critical friends who are trying to help us identify possible problems. We want you to feel comfortable and speak freely in the knowledge all your views will provided anonymously.
The deadline for the questionnaire is 31 March and a select few staff may also be asked to talk to them directly, or in small focus groups for each clinical division. Again, I would urge you to enjoy the experience, talk honestly and freely because your views are vital to us addressing problems and moving forward.
Reaching required standards should be the bare minimum we want to achieve with the CQC inspection. We should not, however, regard this as a challenge but more like a milestone in the race to achieving Perfect Care.
Joe Rafferty
Chief Executive