In Mind: Investment in our workforce is top of the agenda in this week's blog by Chief Executive Joe Rafferty

It’s a strange time in the NHS and a strange time generally as we see in politics and on the news. We continue to plan for all variants of EU exit. Last week the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s spring statement confirmed there would be a three year comprehensive spending review. The extra £20.5bn revenue already committed to the NHS by 2022/23 is a welcome settlement but to be truly effective it needs to sit alongside a solid long term commitment to investment in workforce and in capital.

Investing in our staff, or as my workforce colleagues put it, “growing our own”, is something we take very seriously at Mersey Care. We saw this during apprentices’ week and it was celebrated at the awards ceremony which brought that week to a close. A diverse range of staff, some of whom had travelled some distance for the event, were praised and rewarded for their diligence as students, and also for their commitment in developing their skills and careers. The apprentices bring great promise for the future and the team itself is to be commended, fresh from their OD wins a week ago as a team and for Jo Davidson as Practitioner of the Year. My congratulations to all our apprentices and to the team behind them, particularly for how well they operate the apprentice levy.

It was a pleasure to see the winners of our Positive Achievement Awards on Friday night, rightly recognised for their work each day, and in the case of two colleagues in particular, for their lifetime of service to Mersey Care: Information Governance Officer Gina Kelly and our Lead Psychotherapist, Ruth Carson. 

Pictured (left to right): Jake Mills (MC), Joe Rafferty and Gina Kelly

Pictured (left to right): Dr Ruth Carson, Joe Rafferty and Jake Mills

And from personal awards to credit for the Trust as a whole. Last week we saw awards for The Life Rooms, and this week saw further recognition for the Zero Suicide Alliance. Members of the communications team collected the Public Sector Campaign of the Year, Not for Profit Campaign of the Year (In-House) at the prestigious PRMoment Awards, the third award for the ZSA in the last few months.

There are many ways to judge innovation: peer recognition, external acknowledgment, big awards. It really is tremendous to have our work noted like this because it provides validation for what we are doing.

This isn’t about showing off, it’s about innovation built on solid foundation. Too often, initiatives are announced with great fanfare and glitz but they do not have a solid foundation. In too short a time they wither, they collapse. It’s not sustainable and it’s not good enough for our service users. I will always say whilst we are celebrating we are constantly checking ourselves. And on that note in the next couple of weeks, I hope to share with you the results of our recent Care Quality Commission inspection.

Alongside success should come humility. One of the themes of last week’s medical senate was civility, as our clinicians discussed their role in our Just and Learning Culture. It’s heartening that staff across the Trust are taking the journey to an openness that allows space to learn from incidents, to be heard and speak up equally and to create a culture which means we care for each other as we care for our patients.

As Dr David Fearnley, the Trust's Medical Director, said, many of us will have been at one end of receiving behaviours or attitudes that don’t feel respectful or even found ourselves reflecting on how we’ve spoken to or emailed someone in the past. With this candour we can all consider how we maintain the highest standards towards each other and enable others to see Mersey Care leading by example. You may have seen Amanda Oates and staff side’s Chris Sullivan signing the Social Partnership Forum’s call to action for respect as part of our Just and Learning culture’s Respect workstream.

Also at the senate, our work with Orcha was discussed as part of our work as a Global Digital Exemplar. Orcha has carefully curated a series of apps that you can search and download on topics from diet, smoking cessation and mental health. You can filter by operating system, age, cost (many are free) and other factors. Our clinicians can prescribe specific apps and anyone can access them online. On our website they also sit alongside our popular self help guides.

On the subject of innovative prescribing, you may be interested in this article ‘Prescription for Life’ describing the evolution and work of The Life Rooms. It’s in the latest edition of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Insight magazine 

I was delighted this week to open the Positive and Safe Champions Network meeting hosted by Mersey Care. There were 90 participants from many organisations who joined us. There was real energy to tackle segregation in mental health services. We all agreed that we needed to be ambitious.

Earlier, I drove past Rowan View for the first time in a couple of weeks. It’s astonishing how fast the work is progressing on our medium secure unit. I want to thank the project team and indeed our construction partners for ensuring it has been a safe and effective build. I know that many of you, particularly at Scott Clinic and Whalley, can’t easily get to the Maghull Health Park. 


 Joe Rafferty

Chief Executive