In Mind: The latest LCH review and another award for the Zero Suicide Alliance is in the latest blog by Chief Executive Joe Rafferty

Liverpool community health review

It’s just over a year since we welcomed former Liverpool community health colleagues (LCH) into the Mersey Care family as part of our commitment to provide a complete health service, caring for the physical and mental health needs of the Merseyside population.

As you know, the journey has been a difficult one with two reviews into care provided between 2010 and 2014 being carried out in the last few years (Capsticks 2016 and Kirkup 2018). One of the recommendations of the Clinical Review into LCH, led by Dr Bill Kirkup in 2018, was that we should undertake a further desktop review into serious incidents at the Trust between 2010 and 2014.

This has now been completed and we found a number of issues with data management processes which needed to be examined in much greater detail so we can provide patients and the general public with the full confidence they need in NHS services. The review highlighted 43,000 incidents with 17,000 of those considered to be patient safety related and requiring further scrutiny. These incidents mainly focussed on inconsistent record keeping and data management and they also found a large number of gaps in processes relating to HR investigations.

Health Minister Stephen Hammond felt that these results needed a fresh independent investigation and he has therefore commissioned a follow up review into these latest findings to be again headed by Dr Kirkup. We expect the first stage of that to begin in the next few weeks and the new inquiry is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. Once we have the agreed process and exact timescales for the investigation we will update you further so you can fully understand the scope and scale of the new investigation.

The new investigation and will be conducted in three stages:

  • Stages one and two will identify any individual serious patient safety incidents that were not reported or adequately investigated by LCH and also undertake a series of historic mortality reviews
  • Stage three will fully investigate incidents identified in stages one and two to determine the scale of patient harm, and identify local and national learning.

There was considerable media coverage of this news late last week. We took the decision to be transparent with the media because we thought it was important to highlight the fact that Liverpool community services are now in a very different place and are safe and our staff remain committed to providing the highest standards of healthcare to our service users and patients.

We’re aware the media coverage may have been upsetting for some of you who have already been through a challenging few years. We didn’t take the decision to talk to the media lightly. The coverage – from national newspapers and broadcasters to local news - was balanced and ensured we had the opportunity to reinforce the undoubted progress made against our improvement plan.

As a reminder of the fantastic strides we have made together in community services, here are just a few examples of the improvements from over the last year:

  • Almost 150 new nursing and therapeutic staff have been recruited to swell the professional numbers within community services
  • Almost 3,000 hospital admissions have been avoided through better treatment in the community
  • Our community services in Liverpool have supported almost 5,000 patients to get home sooner through better community care and support
  • Our caring rating from the CQC has improved Outstanding within community services
  • And over the last year we have:
    • Reduced falls by 33%
    • Reduced pressure ulcers by 21%
    • Improved access by 25%
    • Reduced wheelchair waits by 50%.

We don’t anticipate the investigation to impact on large numbers of staff. Our priority is to learn from the past in line with our Just and Learning culture and to provide support for all our colleagues, especially those who may be affected by revisiting painful or upsetting memories from the past.

We have established a dedicated community services telephone helpline for any patients that may need it – 0151 527 3400.

Armed forces award

In the week that marked various commemorations for the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, I was absolutely delighted to accept an award on behalf of Mersey Care in recognition of our support for the armed forces.

We were presented with the prestigious Employers Armed Forces Covenant Bronze Award, which recognises Mersey Care’s contribution as military friendly employer in supporting the armed forces community and those who have served or are serving reservists, and commits the Trust to the Government’s Employer Recognition Scheme.

Pictured left to right: Neil Meadows (Team manager, Veterans HQ, Mersey Care), Major (ret) Geoff Nuzum, Joe Rafferty (Mersey Care Chief Executive), David Gordon (208 Field Hospital, Childwall), Sheila Hamilton (Mersey Care's Trust Veterans Lead), Paula Culshaw (veterans lead, Clock View Hospital)

This Trust places a real priority on co-production and I’m really proud that we work so closely with veterans, reservists and their families, using their expert knowledge and understanding to help guide the care we provide for veteran service users.

We also have a proud history of working alongside the Armed Forces, with Mossley Hill Hospital starting life as a First World War hospital and Ashworth Hospital had its beginnings treating people with shell shock, while our Whalley site acted as a military hospital for the First and Second World Wars.

More information on the services we provide for the armed forces can be found here and more information on the Armed Forces Covenant can be found here.

Zero Suicide Alliance award

I’d also like to give my congratulations to our communications team for lifting another national award for the promotion of the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) training on social media and beyond.

As you know Mersey Care hosts the national ZSA, which is a self formed group of around 300 organisations and individuals who have joined together to determine the best ways to prevent suicide across the UK.

Communications for the ZSA is run by our communications team and this week they won the Public Sector Content Campaign of the Year at the 2019 UK Content Awards in competition with major campaigns for Transport for London and the Lake District Tourist Board. This is one of a number of national awards our comms team have won this year and I wanted to pay tribute to their continued enthusiasm and professionalism at the Trust, which is helping to position Mersey Care as a leading voice in mental and community health.

When Mersey Care developed this suicide prevention training with Relias Healthcare, we used clinical expertise and the experience of those who have experience of suicide to provide people with the skills so they could open a conversation with someone who is struggling.

Our research suggests that approaching those in trouble causes great anxiety for those who want to help, so it’s great news that our promotion of this training is getting the recognition it deserves for a really great information tool.

To date 187,142 people have accessed our training – an increase of 26,925 in the last three weeks – so if you haven’t done so already, please look at the training here. It only takes 20 minutes and it may just save a life.


Joe Rafferty

Chief Executive