Date published: 19 July 2021

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Throughout the pandemic, we’ve focused on making sure that we care for each other in a safe environment. As government guidance on COVID-19 continues to change, I wanted to share an update on our safety measures. In short: masks, handwashing and distancing stay in place at Mersey Care. We all must continue to protect each other and people around us. And if you haven’t already, I urge you to get vaccinated.

Most of those hospitalised at present with severe COVID symptoms are unvaccinated. There is still time and opportunity to get vaccinated so please do so.

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So, whilst we now see these new “freedoms” widely promoted, we must all play our part in stopping the virus spreading. It’s far from over. I know anxieties will have heightened for patients as well as staff. Talk through concerns with your managers; service users have every right to be assured we continue to take their protection and safety concerns as critical.

This week sees the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Regular readers of this blog know I’m more than happy to enjoy brilliant sporting spectacles and I wish our athletes and Paralympians all the very best, especially our own local talent. I suspect though that some of you will be nervous about all this in the light of COVID, and I know that sport as a movement has been soured recently by some behaviours off the pitch. I use this blog both to thank all those who speak out against abuse and racial intolerance and to reassert our role as Mersey Care in owning the agenda of equality, fairness and respect. Like many I was disappointed at England’s Euros defeat but soon a much bigger issue returned to the spotlight: racism towards three players from those who still think it’s acceptable to treat people differently because of their skin colour and race being used as the determinant for failure.

I'd like to introduce you to our new Associate Director of Workforce, Susan Hunt. She joined us from North West Boroughs as Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) Expert to lead this work on behalf of the board. It’s a programme Sue’s been involved with for a number of years and I share her passion for using staff’s lived experience alongside data to drive our part in making positive change happen.

Sue reminded me of some words of Martin Luther King Jr: “The ultimate measure of a person is not where one stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy.”

Mersey Care stands as a leader in calling out intolerance. We have strong form in promoting all aspects of respect but we’ve still a long way to go. We’re not where we should be and that’s why we made an explicit commitment to work towards zero tolerance of racism, discrimination and disrespectful behaviours. It’s rightly ambitious. To go it, we need the engagement of staff across the trust. This affects everyone, whether they identify as BAME or not. We’re working to attract more diverse talent into the trust and reduce the number of staff experiencing harassment from colleagues or patients. We’re supporting BAME staff to have better access to promotion and development opportunities. We want to develop a mindset for everyone so that the fight for racial equality is owned by us all, not just the 6.5% of staff who identify as BAME.

Earlier this year I used this blog to introduce this new zero tolerance BHAG, one of those ‘big hairy audacious goals’ I speak of in the terminology of a book about successful visionary organisations. For those new to Mersey Care, this BHAG is also about seeking to address the inequality of access, experience and outcomes some patients face across our services. This week brings a timely reminder that we must do more and that we must do it together.


JohnHeritage.pngI’d also like to wish my colleague John Heritage, Executive Director of Partnerships, all the very best. He’ll be leaving us in September to become CEO of David Lewis, a learning disabilities, epilepsy and autism charity based in Cheshire.

John will be a tremendous asset to his new organisation and I am pleased that he will continue contribute to supporting those with complex challenges. John joined our board from North West Boroughs and his support and knowledge of the former trust has been of immense value over the acquisition period. My thanks and good wishes for the future to John.

Finally, a wonderful acknowledgement for us all. Following the recent granting of the George Cross to the NHS by the Queen on behalf of the nation, Mersey Care has been bestowed the freedom of the Borough of Sefton alongside other NHS organisations.

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I see this honour as recognition for everyone who’s worked so hard during some of the most difficult times in the history of the NHS. We’ve had to adapt, quite often find different ways of working, and I’m extremely proud of the way we’ve continued to care and support our mental health and community health patients and service users.

Have a safe week and I wish a blessed Eid ul-Adha to colleagues and friends marking this feast over the days ahead.