In Mind: The latest blog from Chief Executive Joe Rafferty on Reducing Restrictive Practice and Ramadan

Turning outrage into action

Many of you will have seen the Panorama programme that detailed the appalling physical and psychological abuse at Whorlton Hall, an inpatient unit supporting vulnerable people with a learning disability diagnosis. I want to reflect briefly on my own reaction that I know many of you will share, which was an overwhelming sense of shock and anger at the abuse the programme highlighted.

At a fundamental human level it was painful to see the impact of an abusive culture on the service users and their families, who quite simply deserved much more from the care staff and so much more in terms of meeting their emotional and safety needs. I am sure you will agree we all need to stand together from a both a personal and professional perspective to prevent this same tragedy from reoccurring at some point in the future.

This programme reminded me of why I, and the Board, are incredibly proud of our clinical teams and organisational commitment to deliver a person centred, human rights based care. We’ve made excellent progress with our Reducing Restrictive Practice programme and involve our patients and service users in many aspects of what we do, from induction to governance and beyond.

Of course, examples of progress leave no room for complacency. All of us need to consider our own internal assurance mechanisms so we are thoroughly open and transparent. We should be constantly challenging ourselves and our teams, just as we do corporately with every KPI and every process that we monitor, that the sorts of behaviours we watched on television are not part of our own culture.

I firmly believe that our approach and the values on which they are founded run through the organisation like the words through the centre of a stick of rock. I see evidence of this in every team across every corner of the organisation. These approaches are creating an environment with a foundation of compassion, set in a collaborative culture which is recovery focused, positive and safer for everyone. Of course, within a framework of continuous improvement, there can be no room for complacency: we need to ensure we continue build on the successes we have made so that our learning can be strengthened further. I have already begun to explore ways to develop this further with colleagues and I know that you will support me in turning our outrage into improvement action as we continue on our journey to Perfect Care.

Secure and Specialist LD

In the Operation Plan for 2019/20 we said we would reduce the number of clinical divisions from four to two by first integrating the Secure and Specialist Learning Disability Divisions (by December 2019) and then integrating the Community and Local Divisions (by April 2020). The plan recognises that bringing together the clinical divisions will improve the opportunity to deliver services to our service users more effectively, efficiently and responsively.

Excellent progress has been made in joint working between the Secure and Specialist Learning Disabilities Divisions. So, with the support of the Executive Director of Nursing and Operations, I told the Board last week that we’ve brought forward the integration of these two divisions to this month.

For most staff it will be business as usual and the same reporting structures, but a lot of work is going on behind the scenes to unify policies and processes: ultimately we want to take the best from each service and use the experience and quality of care to deliver something safer, more patient focussed and fit for new models of care.

We’ve gone through a process and the Chief Operating Officer will be Des Johnson, supported by Steve Newton. I have great confidence in the skills of Des and Steve to lead the new division, and know they already work closely with senior officers at Whalley who bring their own great experience and the nuances of the LD world. I would like to pay tribute to Susan Wrathall, who has given excellent stewardship to Specialist LD and will continue to play a crucial role as we create a centre of excellence for our Trust’s secure services.


Finally, I’ve been working with a colleague in community development and have developed a short film (see below). We’re at the end of the month of Ramadan, holy to Muslims and a time for reflecting on charitable deeds, prayer and to foster friendships. It culminates this week in Eid al-Fitr, one of the most important occasions in the Muslim religious calendar. It is also a great social and family occasion.

During the month Muslims do not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset but those with chronic conditions should take advice from their GP, nurse or consultant on whether or not it is safe to fast.

I wish our Muslim colleagues Ramadan Mubarak and thank everyone for their work for the Trust and those we support.


Joe Rafferty

Chief Executive