It isn’t that long ago that I last wrote about a general election and here we are again at the start of seven weeks of campaigning before we all go to the polls to elect the next Government.
From an organisational perspective we would hope that whichever party finishes victorious would focus on the NHS and mental health care funding in particular. I have been delighted to see that mental health has become more of an issue in recent elections and I hope that continues, particularly with the increased profile it has been given by recent interviews with Princes William and Harry.
Mersey Care is consistent in its attempts to keep mental health on the national agenda and we will again be taking that opportunity next month when Dr David Fearnley, the Trust’s Medical Director, has been invited to meet with one of the co-chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing.
David will be discussing our partnerships with The Reader, which has been hugely successful in prisons while our research study into reading and mental health is making great progress.
Smoke Free Plans
Those of you who have been with this organisation a while may remember that we suspended our plans to become a completely smoke free trust last September after a number of problems in the implementation of that policy.
Our decision to go smoke free aims to bring us in line with National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines. As a trust we have a duty to protect the health and wellbeing of all in our care and employment and banning smoking on our premises is one of the best methods to achieve that.
When we suspended our plans last September there had been a rise in incidents and feedback from staff was that their time was being taken up dealing with smoking issues rather than concentrating on providing high quality care for our patients.
We pride ourselves on being an organisation that listens to its workforce and we have reacted to those concerns and are now aiming for Local Division and the Specialist Learning Division to become completely smoke free by 4 September, 2017.
You told us that there was not enough training last time to enable staff to advise service users and support was not there and we have reacted to that by introducing an implementation plan for Local Services. This will involve community and inpatient staff being trained as advisors in conjunction with ‘Solutions 4Health,’ the leading stop smoking service for Liverpool and Sefton.
I’m delighted to be able to report that community staff have nearly all completed their training and inpatient staff will follow soon. Local Services remain on course to go smoke free in September while the Specialist Learning Division is also ready to hit our deadline.
In addition to training, leaflets and posters explaining our reasons for going smoke free and tips and hints for giving up smoking have been delivered to all sites for service users and carers and staff.
We have been guided in our implementation plan by a Public Health England document called ‘Smokefree mental health services in England.’ There is some useful information on the effect on service users of giving up smoking on Page 48, which you can access here.
It was a pleasure to welcome Sefton Council’s Chief Executive, Margaret Carney, to see our drugs and alcohol service on Canal Street in Bootle this week. Margaret, along with her public health colleagues, was able to see how Mersey Care has supported services in her borough since we were awarded the contract last year.
But it was even more of a pleasure to hear directly from a service user, whose personal and powerful story of the move from dependency to control of his life was a real highlight of the visit. Ambition Sefton are doing amazing work – and it’s all the more resonant when we hear first hand of the positive difference staff there are making. You can find out more information about their services here.
I’d like to add my congratulations to those who enjoyed the National Service User Awards at Old Trafford this week. Ashworth Hospital claimed the service user vote in the Recovery and Arts Category while the Life Rooms did the same in the Community Social and Vocational category, which was won by our own Specialist Learning Disability Division with their safety in town initiative.