In Mind: In his latest blog Chief Executive Joe Rafferty writes about the Zero Suicide Alliance, CQC inspections and awards

Awards, inspections and keeping ZSA on the agenda

A week ago we marked the first anniversary of our event at the House of Commons which formally inaugurated the Zero Suicide Alliance.

The Zero Suicide Alliance was set up by Mersey Care and now boasts around 100 members drawn from other mental health trusts in the NHS and their partners across the country. This wide and enthusiastic membership clearly signals how important the issue of suicide reduction and prevention is seen by the system as a whole and I am extremely proud that the excellent work that we have done here through the Centre for Perfect Care means that we can lead this issue more widely.

I was pleased to continue to share the message on BBC Radio 4 (starting at 49:58) when they discussed how artificial intelligence can be used to predict and support those at risk.

I told the programme our starting point; that in England and Wales there were about 6000 suicides in the last year: the equivalent of 58 planes a year dropping out of the sky and all the passengers being killed. In reality if that happened in there would be a massive outcry in this country – we draw a parallel in suicide prevention.

As a Global Digital Exemplar, Mersey Care’s use of artificial intelligence has reduced the number of self harm incidents in four pilot wards by 55 per cent and our phone app is giving us the ability to support patients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

With their consent, the app analyses patients’ posts on social media and because it is telephone based we can identify somebody’s location using GPS. So for example, if we’re saying their risk rises because of the type of language they are using, because their friends and family or workmates are triggering concerns about them and we also note that they’re beginning to frequent locations that are well known suicide hot spots, then we intervene much more directly to get services back around that person and very effectively I believe prevent them completing suicide.

It's outstanding, innovative work like this which puts Mersey Care at the forefront of clinical research and development in this country. I look forward to seeing this area grow and flourish in the coming years to ensure that, driven by the commitment of our talented and expert staff, we develop our services to be some of the best in the world.


I want to take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt thanks to staff for their professionalism, dedication and continuing hard work during our current Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection. The CQC have now completed their scheduled inspections in our community services and are moving onto the other divisions of the trust although they can of course revisit areas at any time.

I know our Executive Director of Nursing and Operations Trish Bennett will want me to remind everyone to take time to read our CQC updates on yourSpace. On that page you can check over a guide that will answer a lot of the questions I know many of you have about what to expect and how we can gain the most benefit and learning from this CQC visit.


As a Chief Executive, I spent a lot of time supporting the Trust to manage the wider strategic issues which are usually demanding and complex. So I'm always proud to get examples of our excellent and outstanding work as it is recognised by peers and professionals around the country. And we’ve had a great week!

  • My thanks and congratulations go to our Personality Disorder Hub, who were highly commended at the Health Service Journal Awards – their work on Primary Care Services Redesign is getting well deserved national attention
  • Back with the Zero Suicide Alliance, we were shortlisted at the Northern Digital Awards for delivering the Best Digital Marketing Campaign in the Third Sector and won the Engage Awards which recognised the best use of training - the free training takes only 20 minutes to complete and can be accessed here.
  • On Thursday our pre-employment programme was applauded at the HPMA North West Awards, our second award for this. We are one of the few trusts who have planned and committed 100% of our apprenticeship levy
  • And finally, I wanted to offer huge congratulations to Clock View Hospital who came away from the Sustainable Healthcare Awards with a very well earned Building Design Efficiency Award. 

My thanks to everyone for how they fly the flag for the Trust so positively and congratulations to such a worthy set of winners.