Publish date: 22 June 2022

Update from Julia Musker

I wanted to send a brief update to staff in respect of the ongoing discussions about the Whalley site retraction and the organisational change processes.

Having returned from a period of annual leave I feel that the pace has picked up in respect of the Whalley retraction. I know and staff are becoming quite understandably anxious about the longer term plans for the site and what this will mean for them. I can assure you that it is important to us as a leadership team that we are as open and honest as possible with you during this process. We’ll share all the information and facts we can, upfront, and be totally clear at all times. We have introduced a retention payment for all staff across site – and other plans are being agreed to support you to support our service users better.

As you are aware from my previous communication discussions are ongoing with Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust about the site. As I know trust leads said to many of you in the boardroom meeting last week, we only have so much detail about that trust’s plans. But I thought it may be helpful to share with you some of the things we are doing to support colleagues during this time. It is also important to highlight that the Trust is sharing information with colleagues as soon as decisions are confirmed and as early as we are reasonably able to communicate factual information.

It is important to inform you that discussions are taking place at a senior level around a number of things such as:

  • Timescales for organisational change processes to commence
  • The future of the Whalley site and workforce on this site
  • Incentives (financial and developmental) for staff who wish to remain with Mersey Care- both on the Whalley site until retraction and also who wish to move with the LSU to Aspen Wood
  • Health and Wellbeing Support
  • Support from organisational effectiveness teams

Over the next 18 months a key focus of the division is to open Aspen Wood LSU with a full workforce in place, and to ensure the safe closure of the Whalley site.

Key to this is the retention of current staff as well as recruitment of a new workforce for the new unit. Our primary focus is to:

  • Retain talent and minimise the loss of valuable skills and expertise of staff
  • Maintain safe staffing levels for patients, ensuring any change does not affect the care provided to patients
  • Where any staff are displaced, support staff in finding alternative jobs (within our Trust or via a clearing house process in other NHS Organisations and possibly third sector providers)
  • Avoid compulsory redundancies wherever possible
  • Recruitment is ongoing for Aspen Wood with the sole intention of new staff recruited working alongside Whalley colleagues to ensure a smooth transition when the time comes.

I want to echo what I have said personally to many of you in that your support and contribution to the Trust is valued immensely and I would like to take this opportunity to thank each one of you for all you do to support our service users and each other.

Whilst I am not in a position at this stage to provide you with specific timescales I can confirm discussions have commenced with workforce leads both in Mersey Care and other local NHS Trusts to protect employment and avoid redundancies where possible. A dedicated email address and intranet page for the Whalley retraction are currently being prepared and it is hoped that these will both launch within the next 2 weeks.

I will also give a commitment to provide any updates as and when I have these on this page and via email and will maintain regular contact with staff side colleagues to try and answer questions or alleviate any anxieties you may have.

Please remember that my door is always open. You can also speak to Charlotte Kennedy, HR Business Partner around specific workforce related issues regarding the retraction and organisational change. We will do our best as a management team to support you during this time.

Finally just a gentle reminder about the focus session which is due to take place on Thursday morning at 9.30am in the Boardroom at Whalley, I hope to see a number of you there and be able to answer or take away any questions you may have at this time.

Many thanks.