In Mind: Zero Suicide and leadership are the main themes of Chief Executive Joe Rafferty's latest blog

Those of you who follow the news will be aware that the Royals, particularly the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex, have always taken a keen interest in mental health in this country through their Heads Together campaign.

I’m sure it was that interest that prompted the Duke of Cambridge to officially open Life Rooms Walton last year and he visited Liverpool again this week to open James' Place, the UK's first centre outside of a clinic or hospital for helping suicidal men by giving counselling and therapy.

I was delighted to be invited to the official opening of the new centre, which has been established in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter and aims to help save lives and address high male suicide rates by providing face-to-face therapeutic support for men in their time of need.


The new centre manager at James’ Place is Jane Boland, who was formerly the suicide prevention lead at Mersey Care. I’m sure her expertise in this area will give the centre a major boost and strengthen our links between the two organisations with the same goals – to help rid our society of suicide.

Here at Mersey Care we’re really honoured to have played some role in supporting this project. Anyone visiting it will find an oasis of calm and support to help those most at need. It’s a great addition to the services offered in Liverpool.

Can I also draw your attention to a deserved shortlisting for the 20 minute suicide prevention training developed for the Zero Suicide Alliance by ourselves and Relias UK in the ‘Tech4Good’ awards. You can vote for the training by clicking here and the organisers are encouraging everyone to use the hashtag #T4GRelias.

The free training takes only 20 minutes to complete and can be accessed here.


Government Funding

Regular readers of this blog will know that I predicted a possible Government announcement regarding the NHS having talked to other delegates at the Confederation event in Manchester the previous week.

Those rumours proved true with the Prime Minister giving a speech at the Royal Free Hospital in London to announce greater funding for the NHS – an early birthday present, if you like. Any funding that will help Trusts like ourselves provide the best care possible for our population in challenging times has to be welcomed, although I have noticed some commentators are disappointed by the level of increased funding on offer.

It’s probably too soon to judge how the extra funding will affect Mersey Care until we have more detail, but I’m pleased the Prime Minister used this opportunity to promote mental health as a priority for the Government’s long term plan for the NHS. She spoke of moving towards “new clinically defined access standards for mental health that are as ambitious as those in physical health,” which is something we, as an organisation, have campaigned for over many years.

I was part of a small group invited to Downing Street recently to meet the Prime Minister and discuss healthcare. It’s part of my role as Chief Executive of this organisation to meet the country’s decision-makers and give them our views on what issues are affecting our small part of the NHS. It’s only by expressing those views that we stand a chance of having our work and problems addressed at Government level.


Leadership Event

This week I also welcomed staff from Liverpool community services to their first Leadership Collaborative event. This regular forum is designed for staff in band 8a and above and gives an opportunity for me to brief them personally on our strategic priorities. My focus at the event was on the opportunity ahead of our newly enlarged Mersey Care to bring together physical and mental health services for local people as well as aligning our own clinical divisions. 

Like an orchestra, great organisations work together to be ‘greater than the sum of the parts’, rather than as separate, but excellent, elements. Just like the musical score gives direction to the orchestra, our Operational Plan sets out Mersey Care’s direction and priorities for 2018/19 for each of us and our teams. The plan is evidence-based and co-produced with our clinical divisions and is essential reading for leaders and managers in the organisation – you can find it here.  We’re working to produce a visual summary that you can use in your team areas, so look out for this.

At the Leadership Collaborative, I also set a challenge to Mersey Care’s leaders. I expect them to prioritise patient safety, deliver the operational plan for their services and ensure their teams understand their roles and responsibilities in the relation to the Operational Plan. I expect them to support and empower their teams to achieve a minimum CQC good rating and to push for outstanding and to be open to new opportunities to drive more integrated, personalised services. Each and every one of you has a role to play in our orchestra. By pulling together in the same direction, just as a rowing team would do, we’ll be ‘greater than the sum of our parts’ and transform outcomes for the people we serve.

Another key strand of the leadership event was the review of our Trust values, which is all part of the broader consultation and co-production process with staff and service users. We want to refresh these values to ensure they are fully representative of our expanded organisation and truly reflective of a Just and Learning Culture. If you want to be part of the discussions about our plans, particular in relation to joined up physical and mental health services, email



Many congratulations to Dr Indira Vinjamuri, who has been appointed as the Chair of the Specialist Advisory Committee and lead of the curriculum review of GA training with the Royal College of Psychiatrics. I’m sure she will bring all the expertise from Mersey Care to the role.

I’d also like to mention our Mersey Forensic Team, who presented on their innovative approaches to preventing child sexual abuse at the Division of Forensic Psychology conference in Newcastle this week.

Theirs is a very challenging and difficult area of expertise and we can never value enough the amazing and often unsung work that this team produce. They have an incredible range of skills and fully deserved their place at such a prestigious national conference.