In Mind: In his first blog of 2019, Chief Executive Joe Rafferty reflects on the NHS' Long Term plan

In the first blog of 2019, I’d want to share my great appreciation to those staff who worked on and through the holidays. One of the greatest things about the NHS is the dedication of staff providing services 24/7 365 day a year. This is especially vital in the winter months - and I am pleased to report that we managed demand for our services in a safe and effective way over the festive period.

It was a pleasure to meet many colleagues as I visited sites and services in recent weeks. I’ll continue to link into workplaces across the Trust and I hope many of you will join me at the birthday breakfasts in the months ahead.

2019 is Mersey Care’s first full year bringing parity to physical and mental health. We’ve made a lot of progress. There’s much more to do. It’s heartening to see so many new relationships forming across services and with new stakeholders and friends. We are leaders in this holistic approach and Mersey Care is making a real difference.

This work comes as the NHS publishes its Long Term Plan today. This looks ahead and it is honest about getting the most value out of every pound of taxpayers’ money. There’s a strong theme of integration and efficiency. These central messages reflect what I know many of you will have heard me speak about in recent times: prevention, recovery in mental health, better and more efficient services, particularly in an out of hospital context. We’re well placed as a Trust as we steer into the 10 year plan.

We are focussed on giving value and making sure that we maximise public funding so that resources go to wards, community and patients. I’m clear that following the Trust’s recent expansion, our services must align to the changes in provision. We’re looking closely at this and how we best use our buildings, IT and of course our workforce so that we are sure we always deliver the very best for our service users. As part of this, we will be working with our corporate services throughout 2019 to ensure they are ready for the task ahead.

The ways in which the Long Term Plan prioritises mental health and tackling health inequalities are absolutely what Mersey Care stands for. I welcome the way that mental health has moved high up the national agenda and we can take some satisfaction that our work here, including our role in the Zero Suicide Alliance, has made that change happen.

As a Trust working in community, I also welcome the plan’s commitments to tackling the causes of physical ill health. Mersey Care will play an important role in delivering these wider NHS ambitions but doing it, crucially, not in silos, but in joined up and seamless services.

You’ll recall in my previous blog that among a roll call of successes, I was able to congratulate our chairman Beatrice Fraenkel as Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Beatrice’s background influences our thinking about how we design our services.

A good example of that is work led by Dave McKenna, our Director of Security at Ashworth. Dave has just won the National Association for Healthcare Security Award for a series of initiatives introduced within the hospital to improve patients’ digital experience. The judges were impressed by developments such as video visits for families and the kiosk information service which enables patient’s access to menus, personal finance, shopping and educational material. We’ll be using these in the new build Rowan View as well as in Ashworth. My congratulations to Dave and his team.

In 2019 I want you to feel part of our journey towards a just and learning culture and I thank our many ambassadors around the organisation who promote it. And as we come towards the peak of winter, I remind you of the importance – the moral importance – of protecting yourself and your patients against flu. Our campaign is still on and if you haven’t yet done so you can request your jab directly.

This year will see many challenges, for the NHS as a whole, as well as for us more locally. As we face them, I ask you all to ensure we place care and service at the heart of everything that we do. We start 2019 with that ambition for Perfect Care firmly intact and with evidence emerging that we’re making real, tangible progress on many mission critical issues now. I’ll share these developments with you in forthcoming blogs.

Joe Rafferty

Chief Executive