I’d like to start by wishing everyone a happy Diwali. The festival of light is celebrated in a number of faith communities and it’s fair to say we all would welcome some of the warmth, health and new beginnings that the occasion commemorates.
ZSA third anniversary…and beyond
Today marks the third anniversary of the foundation of the Zero Suicide Alliance. It was endorsed at Westminster by senior politicians of all parties and since then, 1.4 million people have accessed the online training to give them a better understanding of how to approach someone struggling with suicidal thoughts.
There’s much more to do, of course. That’s why we’re today sharing news of the ZSA Foundation. This is a new suicide awareness charity and it forms part of our response to the unprecedented demand on mental health services that is expected to follow the COVID-19 pandemic. This is both a natural evolution of our message and an urgent call to action.
The ZSA Foundation seeks to play its part following increasing concerns about the effects of lockdown and the pandemic with the Centre for Mental Health predicting up to 10 million people will need mental health support. The Clinical Leaders Network has also warned this will leave a “legacy that could inflict a damaging toll on NHS and other frontline staff as well as the public at large.”
As ZSA Chairman and as someone closely involved with local mobilisations of NHS resources in our area during the pandemic, I’ve spoken many times about the effects of COVID on the mind as well as the body. Mental health is likely to become a major issue as economic and societal impact of the pandemic take hold, so it’s crucial the Alliance continues its work and we hope the new charity will allow us to do that. To be clear, there’s no present evidence that suicides have increased during COVID-19, but I’m saying let’s do everything possible by way of anticipatory prevention. Please, support the ZSA Foundation and take the training.
Mass testing and your flu jab
The mass testing programme in Liverpool is being extended and its reach widened beyond the city. Even if you don’t have symptoms, please get your test. You can learn more at: www.liverpool.gov.uk/masstesting There’s a live map of where’s busy and where might be a good alternative – follow the hashtag #LetsGetTested.
The centres are all open from 7.00am to 7.00pm; anyone can attend without an appointment and are encouraged to have a repeat test. Routine testing of this type for the general population, and asymptomatic testing of NHS staff, along with vaccination is the way to defeat COVID-19 once and for all. You’ll hear more this week about how we’ll be providing you all on the frontline with Lateral Flow Tests (LFT), which will allow you to test asymptomatically twice a week for the next few months. The LFT is simple and rapid and there’ll be much more about this to share with you soon.
We’re also entering the last two weeks of the flu campaign so make sure you have your flu vaccine ahead of – hopefully – good news on the start of COVID-19 immunisation. We’ll update more on the latter next week, but don’t be in doubt - flu kills too and it’s really important to keep you, your family and our service users completely protected.
The jab is painless, free and very effective. If you’ve not had it yet the teams will be making contact in the next few days and if you’re struggling to get a jab, drop me a line. I’d want every member of staff to have both vaccines as we need as many of you as possible to be fit and well over the coming months. So, don’t delay, if you’ve not had your flu vaccine already, please book now.
Theme days and weeks
Again, there are a number of days and weeks with strong messages attached to them at this present time. I want to draw your attention to those that closely relate to our services and our BHAGs, those ‘big hairy audacious goals’ that we focus on.
The weekend saw World Diabetes Day, which this year focussed on raising awareness of the role of the nurse in supporting people living with diabetes. I’d like to highlight our own community diabetes team in South Sefton, who are now offering My Diabetes My Way – a digital education in the form of an app that can be downloaded onto a smartphone or computer, which is an important and excellent project.
It’s also World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, which is becoming increasingly important to us all. In the last year, one in three people will have been prescribed antibiotics. In a year of great challenges, we need to play our part in keeping antibiotics working, which has prompted Public Health England to develop the Antibiotic Guardian campaign to help tackle antimicrobial resistance in the UK. You can pledge to become an antibiotic guardian and use antibiotics wisely as a member of the public or as a healthcare professional. Please participate in the campaign and make your pledge here.
We also need to be aware of another topic that’s close to home. World Stop the Pressure Day on 19 November highlights the clinical risks of pressure damage.
With the right prevention strategies in place, harm can be avoided and Mersey Care’s skin care service is involved in the campaign. They’ll be sharing their learning so look out for information in the days ahead.
I know there are lots of different messages here – and I hope they resonate with you strongly with clear action points to benefit each other and those in our care.
Joe Rafferty CBE