Date published: 3 April 2023

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I wrote my previous blog about how our services had coped with the major surge in demand we experienced during the Christmas and New Year period and how important our work is in ensuring the NHS survives one of its most demanding times of the year.

We now have examined more data for most of the winter period – traditionally the busiest and most challenging months for the NHS. The data highlights just how crucial the skills, dedication and determination of our workforce is in supporting the acute sector and health system resilience to manage the increasing pressures between September and the end of February.

All of our services play a huge role, but I’m going to focus in particular on our community services simply because they now represent the majority of our contacts with patients and service users. It's an area of the NHS which many people struggle to understand so we've put together a graphic that tries to explain the wide variety of services we offer to our communities. I'll also be looking at the other key pillar of our services - mental health - in future blogs because the two are often inter-linked and drive how we plan the care to our population.

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Community services have been central to the NHS Long Term Plan for some years now, with Government policy reflecting that the NHS should prioritise supporting people with complex health and care needs to live independently, in their own home for as long as possible. Their importance to the wider community and health system is shown in our new animation below.

There are all sorts of benefits to patients being able to be treated in their own homes, they may recover quicker and be supported by loved ones, they are comfortable in familiar surroundings, and it gives an independence which is often not possible in hospital inpatient settings.

Let’s take our Walk In Centres as an example of how community services are crucial to managing demand with the wider health system. We’ve been collating data about how people access the service and what happens to them after they walk through the doors of our eight centres.

The figures in the below illustration show we had 178,903 people visit our Walk In Centres between July 2022 and the end of last month. That translates as an average of nearly 20,000 visitors every month and underlines the point I made in my previous blog about how this winter has stretched our resources more than any other.

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Of all those people to come through our doors, 85 percent (152,656) were treated and discharged while just 2.6 percent (4,793) had to be transferred to a local A&E department for further treatment. The data highlights just how effective our Walk In Centres are, and the crucial role they have in managing demand elsewhere in the NHS.

If we look deeper, we can see a similar story of how our community services across Liverpool and Sefton have continued providing high quality care despite unprecedented levels of demand. Think for a minute about what would happen if those services were not there. Our local hospitals would be declaring major incidents.

These figures do not quite cover the whole of the winter period, but a large proportion of it, from last September to the end of February, and you’ll see each service is showing increased admissions or contacts on previous years.

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The underlying factor is that all the data and illustrations don’t really measure is how much hard work, innovation and dedication has been required from all parts of our organisation to get through the last year.

I know many of you were already exhausted from the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic and have now stepped up once again, putting our patients, service users and carers first, to ensure we deliver the highest standards of care across our region.

As I’ve written before, Mersey Care is actively trying to recruit across the organisation and launched our own ‘Spread Your Wings’ campaign late last year, which you can access via our ‘Working for Us’ page on the website and on our social media channels. We also have an extensive range of Health and Wellbeing offers available to staff should you need it.

Thanks once again for your hard work and dedication in caring for our population.

Prof Joe Rafferty CBE

Mersey Care Chief Executive