In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Rafferty talks about staff recognition, the flu vaccination and more.

Towards the end of last week, the executive team and I had a socially distanced meeting and a tour of Rowan View, the new medium secure site. It’s stunning. A beautiful building, fitted with technology, spacious rooms and the latest facilities, it sets a new standard and is a real statement of intent for us. It exudes 21st century healthcare. It is evidently built around recovery. These, in the context of the national policy of Transforming Care, are critical characteristics.


What Rowan View must have though, is the right culture of care: it needs brilliant staff at all levels to deliver for our patients and service users. As services begin there soon, I know staff will bring their experience and their humanity into that building to fit it out with just about the only thing it still needs – the professionalism of the Mersey Care family.


And of course Rowan View isn’t the only hospital that Mersey Care has opened this year and we have ambition to progress another as well. These are busy times and, in spite of everything, we are robust, positive and can demonstrate that Mersey Care is delivering for our patients. Buildings are important, but as we’ve found as we have adapted how we use them, it is the quality people of those working in them, or even down cameras from home, that is even more important.


Staff recognition


That professionalism of staff has been recognised this week. My congratulations to Nicky Ore and Tracey Carver, as their study on the use of SEM scanners has been published in the August - September 2020 Journal of Community Nursing and is available here​ to read.  My thanks to all of the teams that supported this study and the ongoing pressure ulcer prevention programme, which is of particular importance to us.

Well done to them, and to our staff who have become winners of Cavell Star Awards. District Nurse Corrinne Turrell (right), Cathy Roberts (left) and Conner McNamara (centre), both Community Mental Health Nurses at Baird House, were nominated for going above and beyond for their patients during the pandemic. Cathy’s organisational skills allowed vulnerable patients to remain safely in their homes whilst receiving the medications they need and Conner’s attitude and support of his patients has been really impressive, while Corrinne has overcome personal tragedy and recovered from Covid-19 herself to help her patients. That award, which comes from a partnership that includes NHS Improvement, Health Education England and NHS Professionals, is an excellent celebration of what we do best.


I can also thank five members of ICRAS who recently completed their masters: Liza Jones, Pam Johnson, Julie Walsh, Lindsay Woolrich and Michael Dean.  Add to them four Business Administration Apprentices who passed with Distinction in Whalley: Rita Kirby, Gill Gribbin, Lesley Pilkington and Paula Taylor.  And then there’s our local academic programme which had more than 100 participants last week.


It’s certain that there are many more of you celebrating successes too – and I ask you to use the yourRecognition channel to help us log these successes. Professional and personal development is so important in ensuring continuous improvement, safety and responsiveness.


Flu Vaccination – critical to the fight against COVID-19

The last item in today’s blog is one I will be constantly and consistently reinforcing in the weeks and months ahead. NHE England has published an update to the national flu immunisation programme. With the risk of flu and COVID-19 co-circulating this winter, the national flu immunisation programme will be absolutely essential to protecting vulnerable people and supporting the resilience of the health and care system. The programme is expanding this year, with the jab being offered to 11 year olds, to household contacts of those on the NHS shielded patient list and others too. The programme is also accelerated this year because of the prevalence of COVID-19 and has real weight behind it.  COVID has no vaccine: flu does.



The national campaign “Shield” messaging, which you will see this autumn has the clear message: the flu jab protects you, your family and patients from the flu. You can give flu to your family and patients without having symptoms – so protect those close to you.


Many of the groups who are vulnerable to flu are also more vulnerable to COVID-19. Not only do we want to help protect those most at risk of flu, but also protect the health of those who are vulnerable to hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 by ensuring they do not get flu. Staff – and this means ALL frontline health and social care workers should receive a vaccination this season.  As Chief Executive I am clear that I must protect our staff and patients and ensure the overall safe running of services and, as we prepare for this year’s campaign and its shield theme, I ask you to play your part. We will be mindful of delivering the vaccine in a responsible way during a pandemic, we will provide egg-free alternatives, we will come to your workplace, but we need you to have that jab. It will be so important for us to be able to rule out flu because a vaccination is recorded in order to assess the likelihood of symptoms being due to COVID-19.  As always, myths surround the flu vaccination but I can assure you that it is totally safe – to be without the vaccination is much more risky. We know that during the spring outbreak of COVID-19 it was difficult to distinguish those with flu symptoms from those likely to be presenting with COVID-19. Given that we (individuals, families, communities and the NHS more widely) will go through this winter living with COVID-19 it really is a civic duty to take all and every means of protecting yourself and those around you. And of course, it is our duty to learn; to not take the lessons from earlier in the year would be unconscionable.


The campaign launches in one month. The online Sharepoint booking system will be online by 31 August. You can get an appointment or log that you GP has give you the vaccine. Really prioritise your personal protection this year.


Joe Rafferty CBE
Chief Executive