Publish date: 7 June 2021

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This is my first blog of a new era for Mersey Care. We’re a week into being a newly expanded Trust and we’ve seen a smooth and supportive process as we bring together services and just over 3000 members of staff from former North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Trust. We've even been greeted with a long overdue spell of good weather for the start of this latest chapter in the Trust's history.

I should start by thanking everyone who worked tirelessly to make the acquisition happen. That extends from the support of Governors and Board colleagues to members of the transaction groups, IT and our communications team, whose work has included important new look online services.

I'd also like to wish the former trust’s Board members the very best. It was a difficult decision to seek acquisition and there’s a lesson for the wider NHS in terms of good Board level risk management. I’m delighted to welcome John Heritage into the Mersey Care executive and Board. John will initially focus on the management of our now ‘quite complicated’ partnership and relationship space.

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Pictured above: John Heritage shows Joe Rafferty around the Hollins Park site on the first day of the enlarged Trust.

Together, we’ve all made this happen during the most extraordinary of times and now we can look ahead as a Trust. We're an organisation which intends to grow our reputation for being at the forefront of tackling health inequalities. We also want to understand how physical and mental health community services delivered at scale will allow for ever improving safety, quality and outcomes.

I spent a brilliant day at Hollins Park on the first day of our enlarged organisation. There was a positive atmosphere and it was terrific to talk with staff and call in on services. There's a strong sense of enthusiasm and, I know, relief that the acquisition was completed to plan. I’ll be meeting even more people soon and members of the Executive team have been out and about and will continue in the days and weeks ahead.

As leaders this is very much our business as usual, as all Mersey Care staff know. I thoroughly enjoy these visits but more importantly, the learning we get from them helps us to keep grounded even as we take these big steps ahead.

A major benefit for this coming together is that it presents an opportunity to make sure high quality, integrated physical and mental health services are delivered across our area. It's part of our vision to meet the growing demand for out of hospital services, prevention and care closer to home. We all know it's no longer a sustainable model of health care to keep seeing physical, long term conditions as unrelated to people’s mental health and wellbeing. Our new footprint and range of services will allow us to bring this massive opportunity to coordinate care better.

For patients and service users, all this hard work should almost go unnoticed. Clinicians, therapists and others will remain unchanged and things will continue as before. One thing patients should see immediately is our new website,  which was timed to go live with the acquisition. It has an attractive design, with tools for improved accessibility and handy features like clickable maps to find services in local areas.

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I hope patients will welcome these early changes and see the advantages of our new and widened organisation. We’ll keep listening to patient views in the months ahead – it’s what we do and what we'll always do. So please, let me know what you think of the new site.

 

That’s life!

One of Mersey Care's big areas of renown is the recovery college work we do. I’m well aware some newer colleagues are looking on the Life Rooms with envy but be assured, we are keen to expand!  Last week, the team won the Cheshire and Merseyside Social Value Award for their commitment and innovation in helping service users and their local community.

The Life Rooms’ model seeks to improve population health through proactive and collaborative ways of working across the community. My congratulations to the team and their work, especially during volunteers’ week.

 

Roving vaccinators

It would be remiss of me if I failed to pay tribute to our roving vaccination team who stand down this month. This team model was about supporting vulnerable patient groups across Liverpool and South Sefton and providing person centred care into care homes, supported living accommodation and people’s own homes.

It's one of the first of its kind nationally and numbers around 40 registered nurses. They worked with clinical commissioning groups, primary care networks and local authority leads to protect 1,000 people in their own homes and 3,000 on other sites.

There’s been lots of positive feedback, both from the staff and service users. Comments included: “Dave has PTSD and agoraphobia in addition to other mental and physical health conditions which mean he is extremely clinically vulnerable. Various concerns meant he had decided to refuse the vaccine. His care co-ordinator worked with the roving team to offer a vaccination at home.” 

This is great work and a real example of service. Team members all volunteered for this, many had full time jobs and did their work out of hours. As we come to the end of volunteers’ week, this is a great example of great work so thanks to the roving team – and all those who go above and beyond to help.

 

Our magazine

Finally, if you want to learn more about our services – as a new colleague or someone who is now supported by Mersey Care – or if you just love reading great stories about inspirational people, I recommend Mersey Care’s membership magazine.

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The new edition is out this week and is full of stunning images and inspiring examples of care. We talk to writer Russell T Davies and actor Michael Starke, share professional advice on life after lockdown and introduce the Zero Heroes of the ZSA. Why not have a read?

Prof Joe Rafferty CBE

Chief Executive