In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Rafferty talks about COVID-19, vaccines, a new year and more.

A Happy New Year to all Mersey Care staff, patients and friends.

As we start 2021, there are two important issues for us to be aware of. Firstly, in the areas that we serve and where the majority of staff live, we’ve seen a big rise in cases of COVID-19. There’ve been very significant increases in the infection rate and we have a new variant of the virus as well. Despite our successes with smart testing, it is proving difficult to keep the numbers down. We need to increase our resolve to act on public health messages: wash our hands, wear masks properly over mouth and nose and keep apart from each other. We should be active in promoting these messages and politely and gently calling out those who are not doing their part.

Hands, face, space. Protect each other.

The second issue is of course, the vaccines. You will have seen that the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine has had approval and the first patient received his earlier today, outside of the clinical trials. That’s great news. We’re expecting delivery of this vaccine shortly and will keep you up to date on that. It can be treated more like the flu jab in how it’s distributed and administered and this is a good step forward.  

From today, staff are receiving the Pfizer vaccine. In future we will be using a combination of both of these vaccines and I’m very positive that our plan will make a massive difference to how we deal with and manage COVID-19.

FMA, Jackie, receiving her COVID-19 vaccine

Pictured: Joanne Scoltock vaccinating Jackie Doyle, Facilities Management Assistant (FMA)


As we stand today we’re still in the white heat of this pandemic – and I know what this means to so many of you personally and professionally, at home and in work – but we can start to see a way forward and a way out of this. Again, I commend the scientists and the teams who have created a safe vaccine so quickly. This is a remarkable achievement and it’s a great example of the skill and dedication of the healthcare profession as a whole.

I recognise that staff have worked above and beyond over the Christmas period, and more so this year than ever before. Thank you for that: for managing demand, for going that extra mile and for caring about each other as well. You have responded brilliantly. We need to be realistic about the next few months – winter is always a challenge in the NHS and this one will be our greatest challenge yet. But we have the vaccines and the positivity they will bring.

This news means we can look forward to 2021 with some confidence and more certainty than a year ago when the first mentions of the Coronavirus were hitting us. The year will offer its challenges I am sure. I know we’re in a good place, with great people and great systems. We can all meet these challenges together.


My very best wishes to you for a happy and positive New Year.


Joe Rafferty CBE,

Chief Executive