In Mind: The latest blog from Chief Executive Joe Rafferty

Just and Learning Culture

After spending several days in field visits to services, Professor Sidney Dekker and his team returned to our services and reported back on their findings as they support our progress towards a Just and Learning Culture. By talking directly to staff in services and on the wards, they were able to see the stages various parts of the organisation have reached and, for the executive, this was an important opportunity for us to evaluate the impact of our approach and to understand where we might focus future efforts.

Chief Operating Officers, senior leaders and, from the Trust Board, Amanda Oates, Trish Bennett and Andy Meadows, were told there was good evidence of positive change where the process has been supported over a number of years. However, for some parts of the organisation, there remains some way to go and the team will focus on ensuring that the culture change is clearly signalled and supported across services.

I have to say it was encouraging feedback. There is much to be confident about in terms of the extent to which many staff acknowledge how Just and Learning is truly changing our relationships with each other for the better. In equal measure it is clear that teams are not all in the same place – given our acquisition history it would be remarkable if there were! But even where Just and Learning is a newer idea, it seems clear that it is starting to make an impact.

Professor Dekker also wanted to thank all Mersey Care staff, and especially those who worked directly with his colleagues, for their welcome and hospitality over the last week.


In the News

Last week Granada Reports spoke to people linked to our specialist learning disability services in Whalley. As I said last week, because their main topic is the Transforming Care agenda, Mersey Care cannot contribute to discussions on estates and national policy even though the reporter in this case directly approached some colleagues to speak about their experience.

Likewise, it’s increasingly the trend for the media to take comments from public social media feeds from people who identify as part of specific professions. This applies to everyone in Mersey Care and indeed is said to all new starters on induction: don’t post anything on work topics that you wouldn’t want to share in a formal context or with your manager. It may be frustrating if we hear people talking about our services and perhaps not appreciating or understanding our jobs, but as a provider, we must leave discussions about national policy to the Board of the trust or to our commissioners.

It’s important that we support service users and each other. We have ensured you are kept up to date about the future of learning disability services: Rowan View Medium Secure Unit is expected to open at Maghull in the autumn of next year and we are working closely with NHS England and other departments on securing funding for Low Secure. We’re committed to working with colleagues on future career paths and future uses for the Whalley site.

We’re keeping you informed about what is going on, which includes today’s event at St Luke’s in Whalley, where our clinical lead, Dr Frank McGuire, provided an update and entered into specific discussions on workforce. Throughout this process, I know you will continue to put service users’ needs first so that they receive outstanding care and are supported to move on at the right time. If you have any questions about our plans, please talk to your manager or to our colleagues in wellbeing, who can help provide support.



Many congratulations to everyone involved with our work as founder members of the Zero Suicide Alliance. Only last week the promotion of the free suicide prevention training, which you can access here, won the Northern Digital Awards Best Digital Marketing Campaign Third Section 2019.

That has been followed by being shortlisted in three different categories of the PRMoment Awards 2019, for the Public Sector Campaign of the Year, Nor for Profit Campaign of the Year (in house) and Low Budget Campaign of the year. The awards ceremony will take place in Manchester on 13 March – good luck to all.


System leadership

This is a phrase that is often bantered about, usually with little real meaning! But this week I was told about a really good example of our teams playing their system leadership role – in other words, doing their jobs to a level of excellence that allows others to do theirs better as well. Trish Bennett, along with Lee Taylor and Donna Robinson presented to the North Mersey A&E Board about our ICRAS, Walk-in Centre, community services and Core 24 work.


There was much praise for the Mersey Care teams and lots of reflection on how their input made the difficult business of managing urgent care flows in our system’s A&Es so much slicker and timely. This of course converts to much better and safer experiences for patients, which is our core collective system’s mission. Well done all for your leadership.

Joe Rafferty

Chief Executive