In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Rafferty talks about the COVID-19 vaccine, adult gender congruence (CMAGIC) and staying safe

the Blog: A message of Joe Rafferty

I’d like to start this week’s blog with a few things to remember as vaccinations become available across Merseyside:

  • COVID-19 kills and the latest variant is affecting populations differently to the wave one variant in that indications are that it is much more virulent
  • The new variant is MUCH more transmissible
  • Trials have shown the vaccine, that you can have any time, is effective in reducing the severity of COVID-19 symptoms
  • Regular lateral flow testing is a very effective way of checking your infection status

Anyone who works in the NHS would not stand by and not evacuate patients – or for that matter yourself – if the fire alarm sounded in work. You would take immediate action to protect yourself and those around you. This emergency is no different.

There’s no tangible risk associated with lateral flow testing and the same is true for the vaccine. There are some who share their views or opinions online but it really is time to listen to the experts and those who are trained and truly knowledgeable about infection and prevention.

These doctors, nurses and scientists have the same level of expertise as, for example, surgeons and airline pilots. I expect you’d have a high level of confidence in their professions and training and would not risk your own loved ones lives by second guessing them.

We’re very fortunate to now have new types of weapons to deploy against COVID-19 that we didn’t have in wave one or two. Please don’t walk past them, get yourself vaccinated and take a regular lateral flow test. Remember the vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 and it reduces your chance of becoming seriously ill.

Messages about basic hygiene can’t be repeated often enough, they’re our first line of defence against COVID-19. This is what Facilities Management Assistants across the country are doing day in and out – taking these public health messages and doing them at scale. I’ve visited quite a few of our sites over the last few months and the standard of cleaning and other housekeeping standards have been very high indeed.


Adult gender congruence service (CMAGIC)


Cheshire Mersey Adult Gender Identity Collaborative (CMAGIC)

At a time of challenge, I’m always pleased to see the NHS is open for business and innovating where it can. Again, in Cheshire and Merseyside, the area’s gender identity collaborative (CMAGIC) is setting up a pilot with support options and therapies for adults.

It’s a service delivered by us alongside CMAGIC and includes CCGs, Wirral University Teaching Hospital and patient representatives. It follows a national commitment to improving access and user experience of adult gender services (for individuals over 17 years of age) and make care available more locally. The service is planning an official launch event in the spring.


Staying safe

Television journalists seem to have spent a lot of time this week on COVID wards. It’s a difficult but necessary watch. Their emotive reports have rightly kept the risks of the pandemic in people’s minds amid a lot of other news – from big international stories to flooding at home. I’d like to extend my thanks to all those NHS colleagues featured on our screens and hope their message helps to reinforce the guidance we must keep to during lockdown.

HANDS, FACE and SPACE. We must keep on protecting each other.

Once again: please keep your distance, observe PPE rules - including a covering for mouth AND nose - and wash your hands regularly. Thank you for continuing to do your part to beat this pandemic and if you haven’t yet, get a lateral flow kit and book a vaccination.


Together we are stronger.


Joe Rafferty CBE, Chief Executive