Happy birthday NHS
Just two years ago many of you brought your families to Aintree Racecourse alongside senior leaders and old friends for a celebratory 70th birthday event. In my blog that week I said that the NHS touches the lives of every person in the country, it brings social cohesion and that healthcare should be a right and not left to luck, charity or the depth of your purse.
As we now mark 72 years since the founding of this great service, I think we have had ample opportunity to reflect on the meaning, importance and tangible reality of those sentiments. I will now add that free at the point of use healthcare, as a right must never be compromised by differences in race or background either.
BAME Staff Support
Last week, Mersey Care Chairman, Beatrice Fraenkel, and I ‘attended’ the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff network and spoke about the very real issue of inequality that is now high on the agenda in the light of Covid and Black Lives Matter. I affirmed our commitment to support and deliver for BAME staff. Mersey Care stands firm against all forms of discrimination and we have a strong record in action against inequality.
We’ve long fought against the stigma of mental ill health when it wasn’t in fashion. We’ve also championed our staff networks, who bring very real lived experience to a range of pertinent issues. Importantly, new networks and support groups for dyslexic staff, for veterans, for those seeking mindfulness approaches have begun to form this year.
Our core business is everyone’s health and that starts with body and mind and firmly encompasses inequality wherever we find it. We’re far from perfect and there’s much work to do, but we have strong foundations.
What struck me in the meeting was how colleagues told us we need to shift from notional, tokenistic approaches to recognising that, for many BAME colleagues, their experience is a trauma informed one from the whole of society and structural racism. But, just as we structure our services around trauma informed care as an organisation, we need to be thinking about trauma informed understanding of BAME colleagues and the contribution they make to the organisation.
That was a big breakthrough moment we hadn't considered before in those terms. Given the nature of our organisation, it could give us a very particular route to honestly starting to do something for our whole workforce, not just making it better for our BAME workforce, and then by extension for all those we serve. This approach helps us into this question in a more emphatic way.
Rowan View and Low Secure Unit
This week saw us move closer to completing one new hospital – our Rowan View Medium Secure Unit – and starting on another. There can’t be many trusts in this very positive yet slightly daunting position. Outline planning permission for a new 40 bed hospital for people with learning disabilities was granted by Sefton Council’s Planning Committee.
The next steps include agreeing design, layout and building specification in order to obtain detailed planning permission. Mersey Care will also go through the process to assure NHS England and Improvement that it has a sound business case for the new hospital.
Our aim is that the new site will continue the care pathway now establishing itself on Maghull Health Park – where jobs, clinical expertise and excellence will deliver truly innovative care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. And at this very critical time, while local livelihoods everywhere are threatened, we can look to a period of investment in building local services in the communities we work within and are keen to support.
North West Boroughs Update
In this landmark week, I also welcome the decision of my colleagues on the Board of North West Boroughs Healthcare (NWB). They have approved the transaction that will see Mersey Care and NWB come together.
I look forward to working with our regulators and NHS England/Improvement in the months ahead as we work with our NWB colleagues to describe the undoubted benefits for service resilience in coming together for the people served by North West Boroughs, giving us a stronger and fitter offer for everyone for the years ahead.
Joe Rafferty CBE