In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Rafferty talks about vaccinations, charitable status, human kindness, recognition and more

Joe's Blog, chief executive

I shared a simple but very telling graphic on Twitter (@JR_MerseyCare) this week which was brought to my attention by NHS Horizons’ Helen Bevan. The NHS, like a number of those seemingly ever-present but slightly taken for granted national institutions, usually seems to get the headlines when something goes wrong. 

Not ever to criticise Mersey Care staff but we can always do more to celebrate that we’re doing things right. Trust staff have delivered again and again through waves of the pandemic and stepped up time and time again. I really want everyone to know how grateful we are for that.

As we move this week from “business continuity” back into what may, with a knowing smile, be called “business as usual,” we know it’s still far from that. The majority of priority services are being delivered safely without needing to use business continuity plans, but the crisis continues and there’s a new virus strain on our doorsteps.

The challenges of reaching out when we can’t touch are as great as ever, and they continue to bring complexities in how we care. I’m more than aware that staff aren’t dropping the ball despite the challenges and, if and when you can, please take time to use our thank you and nomination processes. As with the Culture of Care Barometer, which returns later this month, these are ways we can log how we’re doing. Sharing thanks not only spreads some cheer but formally records great work.



At this time there’s been welcome praise for the NHS vaccination programme and rightly so after 12 million vaccinations. It’s a truly amazing achievement and a necessary, major step forward. Our own part in this, starting with the team on the ground in Maghull, is remarkable. We didn’t drop the ball and, to use that metaphor one last time, we added another to the juggling act we’re already managing!

No-one notices when you do great work... only when you don't.

As this week also brings us the Astra Zeneca (Oxford) vaccine I want to strongly encourage staff to have their vaccination when the opportunity comes along. The more people that are vaccinated, the quicker and more safely we’ll be able to resume the work we’re appreciated and respected for as well as supporting a return to normal life outside of the Trust.

Maghull Health Park vaccination centre

We should have real optimism now and we must draw on that to keep recharging ourselves from that battery of positivity. We can glimpse the way out. We all need to find that optimism and public spirit as we go through the process of getting the most vulnerable vaccinated first and working our way through the population.

As we see a mutant phase of the virus now in communities in our area, I echo messages shared by Mayor Steve Rotherham and others: support your colleagues and keep our family and friends safe by sticking to the rules. Teams are out in Sefton and local leaders have risen to this latest challenge brilliantly. It’s a shame to have to say it but there may be scammers around. Official testers will have full ID and not ask for card details or money. Despite the variants, we’re turning a page at last.

Closer to home, I want to thank our roving vaccination teams, led by Deputy Director Pat McGuinness. We know that sadly people who have learning disability already faced significant health inequalities before COVID and the pandemic has exacerbated these inequalities. Public Health England data from the first wave has shown that people with a learning disability are dying of coronavirus up to six times the rate of the general population.

Our roving vaccination teams consist of nurses and support colleagues from all our clinical divisions within the Trust, volunteers doing this in their own time, as well as GPs and medical students. They’re delivering the vaccine to care homes, people who are housebound, intermediate care hubs and primary care vaccination hubs across Liverpool and South Sefton. This weekend they were out visiting those in supported living accommodation to protect people there. My thanks to everyone involved; you are making a difference and living our values.


Charitable status

Last October, we created a charity to support the work of our Trust. We’re registered as a member of NHS Charities Together in order to benefit from fundraising initiatives to support the NHS during the pandemic. The work of many volunteers in raising significant sums of money to support the NHS is another source of pride, including of course the achievement of the late Captain Sir Tom Moore. We wanted to make sure that our patients, carers, staff, volunteers and communities could receive those benefits that are being shared out.

At the beginning of November, we received an allocation of £35,000 which is a standard allocation given to each NHS Charity. Later that month the Mersey Care Charity received a further allocation of £52,500 which was based upon the staffing numbers of the Trust.

The Charity Committee of the Board of Directors met for the first time in December 2020 and we are now scoping how to utilise funds in developing ongoing support for our service users, carers, volunteers and staff. Suggestions for projects or initiatives both big and small would be welcomed.  


Human kindness

I was touched by a story I saw about Scott, an ICU nurse at the Royal, who met up again with Graham, a patient he’d supported through COVID-19 infection early on in the pandemic. Graham gave Scott his treasured army medal received for services in Bosnia. If you get the chance to watch this heart warming reunion story, pause it as the medal is shown and read the kind words of thanks to the whole NHS.


Skin deep

To make clinical education accessible in response to current restrictions, our Skin Team and the Centre for Perfect Care developed a skin care digital training programme to keep staff skills up in some of our most challenging areas - pressure ulcer management, wound management and leg ulcer management.

The digital training framework was developed in line with NHSI guidelines and was delivered through live webinars and recorded video demonstrations of clinical tasks by the team. The service saved 27 clinical hours compared to previous face to face delivery methods meaning efficient training whilst having the least impact on service delivery – a system that’s been so successful that some of our other specialist nursing teams have adopted the same framework for their training.

British Journal of Nursing Awards 2021 Finalsit

The Skin Team Digital Training has now been shortlisted as finalists for the British Journal of Nursing Awards 2021 in the category of Wound Care Nurse of The Year. We’ll find out the results a month from today and I wish them really well. It’s already great to know they are delivering results, right now.



MC Magazine - spring 2021

The Spring 2021 edition of MC Magazine is out now. This issue features stories on heroes cleaning up the frontline, Rowan View Hospital, apprentices (this week being National Apprenticeship Week), the changing face of therapy and much more.

MC Magazine - Spring 2021 - Out now

To read the magazine in full, click here.

Finally, a reminder once again: if you must go out, it’s vital to make space between yourself and others, wear a face covering and wash your hands regularly and continue with your testing.


The nation is rightly proud of the NHS. Let’s play our part to protect it and save lives