In Mind: Just and Learning Culture and Equality and Diversity - the latest blog from Chief Executive Joe Rafferty

Just and Learning Culture

This week we’ve welcomed back Professor Sidney Dekker to Mersey Care. Together with a colleague, Sidney has been speaking to staff at all levels and visiting services. For those who have followed our journey, Sidney is familiar as a lively and persuasive academic who wrote the definitive text book on Just Culture, and has supported Mersey Care as we have brought to life the principles he identifies, in our set of practices under the Just and Learning Culture work.

As many of you know, this means we work to avoid meeting hurt with more hurt, instead asking what has happened rather than looking for someone to blame. For us, this is a profound change in how we manage incidents. It has meant we’ve kept people on the wards working, reduced sickness and seen measurable improvements in our staff survey.

I know that for some colleagues, this is new and challenging. It won’t – it can’t – put right years of negativity or wipe away the hurt caused in the past. But we have to make the change. Mersey Care is being noted and applauded nationally and internationally for our steps towards this new culture. I’ll be hearing the latest feedback from Sidney to see how far we have come and how we engage with those for whom restorative justice still feels far away.

What you do in the day job, on the wards and in the community really does change lives for the better. Community and mental health services don’t always get the praise they deserve and are often overlooked when politicians talk about the NHS. But amid all the challenges, so much of what we do resonates widely as great examples of innovative and excellent care.


Equality and diversity

It was pleasing to see so many colleagues at the Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Strategy Consultation event at Aintree Racecourse last week. The strategy outlines our commitment to taking equality, diversity and human rights into account in everything we do so we become a truly inclusive employer and service provider. Our Chairman Beatrice Fraenkel, non-executive director Aislinn O’Dyer, executive director of workforce Amanda Oates and I attended, underscoring the Board’s absolute focus on these critical issues.

We need to start to think about diversity differently and understand that it goes further than simply compliance with the law. Understanding and responding to the differences of our staff, our patients, service users and carers will help us to deliver our aspiration of perfect care. It improves access, outcomes and experience for patients and service users, reduced health inequalities and helps us to attract and retain the best staff.

So I am very keen that we see diversity as an asset, not an extension of some politically correct, target driven approach. It is a fact that more diverse teams, almost in every environment, outperform homogeneous ones. Translated to ‘our world’, that means safer, more responsive and personal services, which are at the heart of our Perfect Care approach. Therefore getting Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Strategy in a good place is central and not peripheral to our success. This is why I have asked the senior leaders to make sure that all team have a positive view on how to improve equality and diversity if necessary.

Pictured (left to right) Jane Farrell, Joe Rafferty and Beatrice Fraenkel.

Colleagues listened to a series of really informative presentations about inclusive leadership and unconscious bias from Jane Farrell, the CEO of Equality Works. Andy Woods outlined the partnership work of the Commissioning Support Unit, Mersey Care and other NHS Trusts towards improving equality. Sonia Bassey MBE provided a update about the exciting ‘Mandela 8’ project that Mersey Care are supporting and the plans to create a memorial to Nelson Mandela in Princes Park to celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday.  


Global Digital Exemplar

We talk about Mersey Care being a Global Digital Exemplar. Very soon our clinicians will be able to prescribe healthcare apps which have been carefully curated and made accessible to them and their service users. Our collaboration with healthcare advisors Orcha means we can empower patients to use the right app to support their specific needs, with software that has had evaluation and a clear track record.

And our digital journey continues to get wide attention. This week our telehealth team hosted a visit from senior representatives of Guangdong Maike Ltd, a health IT company based in the city of Guangzhou (formerly Canton) north of Hong Kong. Their visit was to understand how we are using digital technology to cope with the demands placed on the NHS including the ageing population and increasing number of co-morbidities against a back drop of fewer clinicians as these are very similar to the challenges faced in China. Our visitors were keen to hear the story of how Liverpool has led the way for telehealth in the UK, understand our operating model and help them roll out telehealth within their province.

In Liverpool, telehealth has been used by over 7,200 patients. Currently, 1,000 patients use the Docobo Telehealth system and are monitored daily by the nursing hub. The hub has digitally integrated with several services across the local health economy and is currently scaling up to monitor 2,000 patients over the coming months to meet the increase in demand.

Award winning

I was delighted to see the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA), which Mersey Care leads, recognised this week as having the best marketing campaign at the Northern Digital Awards. I’ll use that success to remind everyone to take the training and recommend a friend to as well: suicide is the biggest cause of death for young men and it affects far too many people in our services, our community and far beyond.