This is OUR Time by Trish Bennett, Executive Director of Nursing

I know many of you would have expected the weekly blog written by Chief Executive Joe Rafferty, but he’s kindly let me step in this week to discuss our plans to mark International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. What a year to be a nurse in Mersey Care, so let’s shout about all the great things nurses do every day from the rooftops!


There are a lot of national events planned, but here at Mersey Care we wanted to organise our own programme to celebrate how important nurses, midwives and allied health professionals are within our Trust and how they touch each and every one of our lives.


Most of us will have been brought into the world with the help of a midwife, while we will all have had occasions when we’ve had to call on the expertise, compassion and care of a nurse whether that’s for ourselves, our children, or relatives during the course of our lives.


I’m very proud to represent this Trust as Executive Director of Nursing and believe the core values of nursing are very much in my blood. I have spent my whole career in nursing as have many members of my family. My daughter is also a nurse and I have sisters who work as a midwife and an allied health professional, while my granddaughter may also follow suit.


The nursing profession has changed considerably since I trained as a student nurse more years ago than I care to remember, but it remains one of the most important roles within the NHS. Just think of the number of different nurse disciplines within Mersey Care – we have community mental health nurses, district nurses, learning disability nurses, school nurses, dental health nurses and the many specialist nurses to name just a few.


We have invested in our workforce with new career pathways within our nursing structure. The development of advanced clinical practitioners and both nursing and AHPs are part of the redesign, are the future for our patients across inpatients and our community. Mersey Care has embraced the benefits of the new skills that associated nurses will bring for our teams and patients. There are 14 qualified associated nurses who joined the NMC register in March 2019 and we’ve committed to train 130 associated nurses with the latest cohort of 68, who will start their training in March. 


Every single nurse, no matter what discipline, makes such a difference to their patients, sometimes at the most vulnerable moments of their lives. We aim to celebrate the expertise, compassion, professionalism, empathy and care that each and every one of you provide.


Further details about all our plans for ‘International Year of the Nurse and Midwife’ will be confirmed to staff as soon as we finalise them, but I do have a couple of dates for diaries already. To mark International Nurse’s Day on 12 May we will be holding a conference at Aintree Racecourse when I will share the new clinical strategy.


Liverpool is of course, a perfect place to stage celebrations for International Nurse’s Day because it is the birthplace of district nursing where Florence Nightingale offered guidance towards the establishment of the first scheme of its type in the country in the nineteenth century.


We’re still embracing the need to be at the forefront of changes to nursing and midwifery even now and, as a Trust, I’m proud of how our teams and services have embraced our existing Trust accreditation system in the form of quality review self-assessments and service reviews.


By embracing that system, the majority of our teams and services are now rated green (good) for quality reviews. We want to build on this success and provide support for teams and services to strive towards achieving ‘outstanding’ and then ‘excelling’ status.


I’m confident from working with our clinicians that our divisions can achieve this. To take this forward the accreditation system has been revised and full details will be communicated via ‘yourNews’ and through divisions in forthcoming weeks.


The strategy, which will be put before the Board of Directors at the end of March, is going through an extensive consultation period and, once approved, will provide a framework for our models of care.

In keeping with the ‘Year of the Nurse’ celebrations, we have decided to announce a special presentation at that conference this year, the Florence Nightingale Award for the outstanding nurse in the Trust. The criteria and how to enter will be provided to you in due course.


The other date for the diary is 22 April when we will be hosting our second Clinical Senate. I know many of you enjoyed last year’s event, which can be seen here, and once again more details will be provided as soon as arrangements are finalised.


Those of you who are active on social media will know that Mersey Care has started sharing stories of our nurses on how they feel about their job and why they have chosen their career. You’ll be able to follow those posts by looking for Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust on Facebook or following @Mersey_Care on Twitter.


NHS England and Improvement are also gathering people stories to showcase as wide a cross section of England’s nurses and midwives as possible, as illustrated here. If staff wish to be involved and share their story they can complete the ​form​ and return it to​ and encourage other nurses (or midwives) you know to do the same.


I’ll be in touch with you all again soon to inform you of further events and provide information on how you can get involved. Most nurses, by their very nature, do not try to grab the limelight, and focus all their attention on caring for patients, service users and carers.


I’d like you all to put that to one side, even if it’s just for 2020, and revel in the recognition you’re all deservedly receiving. It’s a great year to be a nurse or midwife, so let’s come together and celebrate what we do.


Trish Bennett, Executive Director of Nursing