In Mind: The latest blog from Chief Executive Joe Rafferty on progress with our new medium secure hospital and meetings with Government

Government Discussions

One of our big responsibilities as a Trust is to bring our innovation and good practice to the attention of a wider audience, including sharing experience and findings with other trusts, stakeholders and Government. I share all the major news through this blog each week, while there is also a staff newsletter that goes out every Friday and we provide a monthly stakeholder newsletter to keep other partners and interested parties informed.

As Chief Executive, I also get the chance to meet local MPs, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Government from time to time and I had two interesting meetings with Ministers this week to discuss the work we are doing both at Mersey Care and in our region in general.

I was firstly involved in a round table discussion with Matt Hancock MP, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, regarding our work as a Global Digital Exemplar (GDE). From the very start of being awarded GDE status last year as one of seven mental health trusts chosen, we have worked collaboratively with other trusts in the region like the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and Alder Hey Hospital.

The meeting with the Minister reinforced the fact that being linked in with other trusts is exactly the right thing to do, so we can learn from each other and all benefit from a digital transformation.

I am aware, though, that there is no point talking about being a GDE if we’re using technology and equipment that prevents us doing what we want to achieve. I have listened to all your comments about the speed of the Wi-Fi and your equipment and, with that in mind, I’ll be putting together and sharing a digital improvement plan across the trust in the New Year that aims to address those problems.

My other meeting this week has been with Jackie Doyle-Price MP, the Minister for Suicide Prevention, and discussed both our Zero Suicide policy at the Trust and the Zero Suicide Foundation.

It’s refreshing to know that the work we’ve done at Mersey Care both on tackling stigma and the inevitability of suicide – which we adopted as part of our patient safety programme - is now being investigated nationally and being looked at within other organisations.

The notion that suicides are not inevitable is particularly interesting because we have a lot of evidence from those who have considered taking their own life or those who have been bereaved by suicide to suggest differently.

We’ve done surveys with people who have accessed our training and around 70-80 per cent of people thought suicide was a selfish act and inevitable beforehand and only around 10 per cent thought so after completing the course. That suggests that education about suicide can have a real impact on people’s lives.

Rowan View

I promised in a blog earlier this year that I would keep you up to date with progress being made on the construction of Rowan View, our new state of the art medium secure unit, being built at Maghull Health Park.

You will see from the picture below that good progress is being made and it’s now starting to look like a medium secure site. We hope Rowan View will provide a much improved patient experience and a working environment that will help staff and provide a base for innovation.

I particularly wanted to share with you this new angle - it’s not often on a secure location that we can get images like this. Those of you working at Scott Clinic or Whalley Medium Secure can see not just the shape of the building but also the wards where you could be working in the second half of 2020.

The site also contains sport and therapy areas, gardens, a café and first floor office space too. The steel used, laid end to end, would reach Blackpool Tower and the length of ducting in there is long enough to link Goodison Park to Anfield.

Drugs Initiative

We have a long history of working alongside Merseyside Police to support different initiatives and I was delighted to see the interest in the launch of a new project which aims to reduce the use of banned Class C drug KHAT in Liverpool.

Pictured (left to right): Abdi Ahmed, one of Mersey Care’s Community Development Workers and Project Lead, PC Paul Ledwith, Dr Yasir Abbasi, Mersey Care’s Clinical Director of Addiction Services

The project was developed by the Community Development team at Mersey Care in partnership with Sanctuary Family Support and Liverpool’s Somali Community and funded by Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Jane Kennedy.

KHAT is commonly used in parts of Africa and its use affects communities in the city. It can cause liver damage, mouth cancer and increase the severity of mental health issues, so this is an important initiative for Liverpool which aims to help communities understand the health and legal implications of using KHAT, a plant-based stimulant illegal in the UK since 2014.


Those of you who are interested in health news will know that it has been widely reported that the NHS is facing a national recruitment problem. It is no different here at Mersey Care and we have made proactive steps to address this issue with recruitment campaigns and a recruitment day at Maghull Health Park recently.

Given that recruitment is a national problem, it’s nice to get some good feedback about Mersey Care from some foundation doctors recently. As a trust, we provide four months of psychiatric experience for approximately 20 foundation doctors during their initial two year core medical training after graduating from medical school.

This is part of the training that all doctors experience during that initial two year period, with half of all new doctors going through a four month psychiatric placement before making decisions about the rest of their careers. It’s a great opportunity for Mersey Care to educate the doctors of the future by providing essential psychiatric training and develop skills which can be used in whatever field of medicine they choose in the future.

According to a recent publication by the Health Education North West Foundation doctor feedback showed high levels of satisfaction with their training experience with us. The areas that were picked out for being particularly good included consultant supervision, attitudes to education and learning, the quality of induction and the overall educational experience.

Mersey Care is also running a series of workshops to help give advice to anyone who wants to progress their career as a nurse associate, assistant practitioner (Allied Health of IAPT) or as a registered nurse.

Our vocational assessment centre team is running a series of workshops and advisory sessions during the first two weeks of December and you can find out more information here.

Board of Directors

I briefed the Board recently on the Chancellor’s budget announcement of extra £20.5 billion for the NHS over the next five years. I also reminded colleagues of the Health and Social Care Secretary’s vision to shift the focus of primary and community care services so that prevention will be at the heart of the NHS long-term plan.

The NHS is currently in the process of developing a 10-year plan, building on the Five-Year Forward View, to set out what parity of esteem between physical and mental health looks like and the need to deliver it in the NHS by 2030, which is outlined in the Institute for Public Policy Research’s document.

As we have our current Care Quality Commission inspection, I noted that they have published their 2017/18 State of Care Report, an annual assessment of health and social care in England. The report looks at the trends, shares examples of good and outstanding care, and highlights where care needs to improve.

The Secretary of State has also announced the first ever NHS violence reduction strategy. It takes a zero-tolerance approach in order to protect the NHS workforce against deliberate violence and aggression from patients, their families and the public, and to ensure offenders are punished quickly and effectively.

Thank you.

Joe Rafferty

Chief Executive