In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Rafferty talks about Blue Monday, our latest acquisition of North West Boroughs and COVID vaccinations and more.

Helping each other in challenging times

Today is ‘Blue Monday’, often thought of as the most depressing day of the year. Whether this is true or not, we are using the day to draw attention to the importance of paying attention to all of those we are in contact with daily, especially now that our contact is often through a screen than in person.  Even in a pandemic – especially in a pandemic - Mersey Care is playing its leading role in using today’s message to support people. Our colleagues in the Zero Suicide Alliance want people to turn Blue Monday into Brew Monday by encouraging people to grab a cuppa and check in with family, friends and colleagues over the phone or video call.

Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) Big Brew

If you can, please take the ZSA Step Up module, which gives a brief introduction to social isolation and how to help someone who may be struggling with lockdown. Especially in these busiest of times we can all be a friend to someone in need.

We see Brew Monday as a really simple act of social solidarity – please raise it in your team meetings and maybe take a few minutes to focus on your individual and collective wellbeing. If there is someone who seems ‘off’ and not themselves, reach out and have a cuppa. Profoundly important acts that can save lives are not always the grand or complicated ones; they are often routed in really simply, personal acts of kindness.


North West Boroughs Healthcare acquisition date update

In my blog before Christmas, I spoke about the timescales for the acquisition of those services coming to Mersey Care from NWBH. The Transaction Board had made the decision to extend the target date for the transfer of the Cheshire and Merseyside staff and services to us to 1 July 2021 to allow extra time to complete governance processes. Work to determine how finances will be split between Mersey Care and Greater Manchester Mental Health has been completed sooner than expected. This means it may be possible to achieve an earlier target date for transfer.

North West Boroughs NHS Foundation Trust

We are awaiting a response from NHS England and NHS Improvement to confirm whether they would support an earlier transfer date. As soon as we receive this, I will be able to confirm what the target date will be. There is no change to the target date for Wigan, Bolton and Greater Manchester staff and services which will transfer to Greater Manchester Mental Health on 1 April. If you have any questions please email:


COVID vaccinations

The eagerly awaited COVID-19 vaccines are being given and we’ve given out over 2500 so far, starting on the front line. We’ll get to everyone in time. Our vaccination centre at Maghull is a tribute to staff from across clinical and corporate services, technical people, facilities colleagues, executives, stores staff and many more, just pulling together to make it happen.

Maghull Health Park Vaccination Centre

Everyone involved has gone above and beyond to set things up. They’ve overcome the inevitable hurdles and hoops of any fledgling new service in a matter of days to create a smooth and efficient process. It’s one that delivers for our staff coming in and makes sure those doing the vaccinations are fed and watered too! I hear stories about how our regular vaccinators, who have “the day job” and colleagues covering them, have stepped up to learn the process for the COVID jab, understanding the bureaucratic parts of the assessment process. It’s slightly longer than for flu as we have to wait longer to check on reactions and I know staff have questions. The team are trained in delivering the jab but also in being supportive, nurturing and encouraging. “We’re busy and very glad to be so,” as Noirin Smith puts it so well.

Mersey Care staff receiving the COVID-19 vaccination

I’d like to close this week with a lovely story from the vaccination centre. A colleague heard from a woman just vaccinated who talked about her mother who’s in her 90s. She’d had her own vaccination and whilst in the clinic space, she spotted a gentleman there also in his 90s. It turned out he’d sat behind her in primary school. “A wow moment that made us all smile.”

We all need that moment to smile. I want to finish by saying that while there is some indication that community infection rates are slowing, they are still VERY HIGH. That means each contact, in work or outside, is an infection risk. So the same mantra applies: wherever possible keep your distance, observe PPE rules including a covering for mouth AND nose, wash your hands regularly.

Thank you for your doing your part to beat this pandemic and supporting our patients wherever you are: keeping services going, stepping up to cover others, just getting on with the day job behind a mask on a difficult day on the ward, or delivering the vaccine itself.


Joe Rafferty CBE

Chief Executive