In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Rafferty - Good and Outstanding

On Friday we had the outcome of our last Care Quality Commission inspection. Now that the inspectors’ report has been made available to you, I hope you can all reflect on the many positives and examples of great practice it contains. Again, I want to recognise the role every member of staff made in ensuring Mersey Care was rated for the third time as an overall Good Trust. There was excellent guidance from our own internal CQC team and from those who supported them to share their messages and work programmes. Above all, the contributions of staff of all divisions and disciplines meant we have delivered an outcome that is very reassuring for those who use our services.

I was pleased to read that the inspectors had noted we have a clear vision and set of values. They recognised that our strategy had been developed with involvement from staff, and our culture of learning and striving for Perfect Care figured prominently in their final report. The vast majority of staff the CQC spoke to had the right experience and training, cared with compassion and respect, and they involved patients in decisions. They also told inspectors that they felt valued. The CQC spoke of outstanding practice. This included our Zero Suicide work, our approach to bed management, to minimise restrict practice, the business case for the new medium secure unit, the Life Rooms, as well as in wards for people with a learning disability or autism, and also in dentistry and community health services for children and young people. Again, I want to be clear that I’m extremely proud of the hard work and dedication you have all shown and which reflected in this fantastic inspection result.

Overall we saw most areas improve which is very encouraging indeed. This demonstrates that we are evidencing systematic change and continuously improving. As of today all our mental health inpatient beds are rating good or outstanding.

It is always tempting to look only at those areas seen by outsiders as outstanding but what was crucial for our well-led domain result was that the CQC tested how well we communicate from board to the “shop floor”, from the patient environment and back to senior leaders. The CQC found this outstanding: this is a reflection on each and every one of us irrespective of our role in Mersey Care. We can all celebrate that together.

Also, it’s really important to reflect on the move from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ in the CQC’s domain of ‘safe’. For me, the most important aspect of the report is that patients and service users should expect our services to be safe and good.  It must raise questions in patients’ minds when they see anything less than that on our displays and posters. So it is particularly rewarding to see this rating improve.

Last week I spoke of the excellent outcomes from a smaller CQC inspection in Whalley looking at restraint and this week we had the initial results from the HM Prison inspection which have also given a very welcome ‘Good’ rating. 

All of this said, we are not complacent and there’s much still to do. CQC visits are now part of ‘business as usual’ and we’ll be welcoming the inspectors back soon. Having spoken to a lot of you recently, I get the sense that you will look forward to impressing the inspectors again. Our most recently acquired services in former LCH were not included in the final trust wide ratings aggregation. We will be continuing to work in those areas where we know colleagues want and need more support. I was really pleased however to note a distinctive improvement in the assessment of our community services. There’s more work ahead but the upward trajectory is something to take heart from and show pride in.

When I talk of the Mersey Care family – including the services that we’ve delivered for generations as well as much newer services - we believe that as a family, we will share our knowledge whilst all maintaining a single and very high standard that our patients, service users and stakeholders can expect to receive whenever they come into contact with Mersey Care.

It is our job to continue to build faith and trust in the NHS and play our part in building strong communities, with the best possible physical, social and mental health. These recent visits by external inspectors give us good ground to have confidence in our services and our excellent staff. I speak for the whole Board when I say: thank you for all that you have done. This is a great achievement which reflects on our culture and attitude of all staff.

I look forward to working with you all to achieve the next phase, which is laid out in our new operational plan which you can read here.

Joe Rafferty

Chief Executive