In Mind: The NHS Confed 2019 is the main topic for the latest blog from Chief Executive Joe Rafferty

NHS Confed 2019

I spent two of my days this week representing Mersey Care and the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) at the annual NHS Confed Event in Manchester, which allowed me to discuss our aims and strategy with NHS leaders and healthcare businesses.

One of the major topics of conversation was the announcement last week from the Prime Minister, who has pledged to encourage all 1.2 million NHS staff to take the free 20-minute online training we have developed on behalf of the ZSA.

It means that regardless of where they work within the NHS, be it on the frontline or elsewhere within the healthcare system, they will now be asked to take our training. It won’t make everyone suicide prevention experts but the training course we’ve developed, using clinical expertise and the knowledge from those who have lived experience of suicide, will make those who take the training more aware of the signs and better able to approach friends, colleagues and members of the public that are struggling.

For the NHS Confederation and the Prime Minister to back our training in this way will have a huge impact on our aims to de-stigmatise suicide and suicidal thinking. Critically, if we can get the 1.2 million people within the NHS behind this we really have a massive movement in place.

Social movements start with engagement and this is no different. If we can get each and every NHS worker taking the training and then get them talking about it with their friends, families and in their communities, just think how quickly the message will spread. Very quickly, almost like a wave, we can get a core set of messages out into our homes, our families, our businesses, our hospitals, so it’s really a hugely important moment for us.

The training in itself is important for a couple of reasons. We know when we ask people before they take the training whether suicide is inevitable around 70-80 percent answer yes. After the training, just a 20 minute investment of your time, that number drops dramatically to 10 percent. That’s really important because if you think something is inevitable how are you going to prevent it? Getting people to move from the notion of inevitability to preventability is really important. This really simple training tool does that.

The second thing it does is break that myth that if you talk to people about suicide they are more likely to try and complete a suicide. Actually all the evidence shows that if you talk to people in the right way, empathetically and with interest about suicide, you decrease the chance of them attempting to complete a suicide. There’s a double benefit to take a 20 minute detour in your day so please do the training.

The Confed was a really useful event to attend for our ZSA team, who managed to get a number of delegates to take the training and signed up around 50 new business and individuals as members of the Alliance. By spreading the word at events like this, we hope the momentum for the training keeps building towards our objective of a million people taking the online course.

Site Visits

As Chief Executive it’s not always possible to get out to all our different sites as much as I’d like to meet you all. Every time I do go on site visits it’s nearly always a rewarding experience and I often come away with ideas for improvements and really good feedback on what we do right and what needs work.

That was no different this week with a valuable visit to our Croxteth and Norris Green District Nursing team, who gave me plenty of learning to take away, as did my visit to our Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment team. As ever, I’m always impressed with the passion, energy and dedication to providing high quality care from colleagues across the trust in the community and mental health.


Many congratulations to Dr Arun Chidambaram, who has been appointed Medical Director for Operations, a role that he took up on 20 June 2019.

This is the first of a series of new roles which have been established following a wide-ranging review of medical management and leadership in the Trust over the past 12 months.

 Joe Rafferty

Chief Executive