26 April 2021

North West Boroughs Healthcare.pngI’ve written before about Mersey Care’s intention to acquire North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NWB) and as part of that process, I’ve been leading some of the executive sessions with our new colleagues. If the official approval process continues as we expect, we’ll be acquiring most of NWB’s services from 1 June. I’ve written before about Mersey Care’s intention to acquire North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NWB) and as part of that process, I’ve been leading some of the executive sessions with our new colleagues. If the official approval process continues as we expect, we’ll be acquiring most of NWB’s services from 1 June.

We want the transition to be a measured one and we want to see a safe landing on this date with some processes coming together afterwards. The sessions have given their staff opportunity to find out more about us, about what we do and how we do it. Concepts such as our values, our restorative just culture, PACE appraisals and our recognition systems all need an introduction.

Alongside executive colleagues I spoke to more than 200 staff about the process and there’s a lot of positivity from them. Working across trusts and partners during the pandemic, I always find it remarkable that although we’re all NHS, all paid from the same purse as it were, and all dedicated to the highest standards of care, the styles and methods found in different organisations remains wide and nuanced. As NWB comes into our family, we have lots to share – but importantly we, as Mersey Care, have lots to learn.

This year’s health and social care White Paper from the Government talks a lot about integration and collaboration and, as we do this, we must be aware of retaining the best and sharing the good work achieved by colleagues in their respective services. This is very much in line with our Trust strategy. As a learning organisation, I want us to sustain and enhance the great work of NWB. 

This will include ‘pinching with pride’ visible positives such as their weekly executive Q&A sessions and more structural things – for example, our extranet, which is based on theirs. Underlining that new national focus on integration, as the transaction is approved, we also gain a new board member with John Heritage moving from deputy CEO at NWB to become our Executive Director of Partnership, driving our collaborations and business development. As Mersey Care benefits from a wider reach and expert staff in disciplines perhaps not as familiar to us, I look forward to seeing more of them and visiting their workplaces. 

The same goes for staff from Formby and Southport. They come to us on 1 May from Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust to form a new service in the Community Services Division. This takes in district nursing, blood testing, therapies, rehabilitation and pain management. 

The teams will continue to work from existing bases in Sefton with no changes to referral pathways or their contact details. These new colleagues, their leadership, skills, and expertise, all emphasise Mersey Care’s continued commitment to caring for body and mind as one.

At a time which can feel full of change, I’d like to taMersey Care building.jpgke a moment just to remind people of our Mersey Care strategy:

“Our vision is to provide perfect care that enables people with physical and mental health conditions, learning disabilities and addictions to live longer and healthier lives. We want to deliver Perfect Care which is Safe, Timely, Effective, Efficient, Equitable and Person centred (STEEEP).”

It's perhaps a big ask for all staff to know that word for word, but in daily practice, attitude, the way we care for our patients and our teammates, this should be business as usual. Staff show they live this in how they work each day and it’s always a source of pride when I hear of examples and great practice. Please take time to consider that statement. 

We must always strive for clinical excellence, but to achieve it we must understand and meet the health needs of our local population and address any risks to safety and quality in our services. This year’s strategy document really makes it clear that our vision to ‘strive for perfect care’ has changed. I’ve written in recent blogs that we’re now more than just striving for perfection in a single episode of care. We must become more preventative and integrated in our approach. 

This means seeing people as so valuable to their families, their communities and their neighbourhoods, that they’re worth investing in to not just get the best from but to keep them healthy and independent. Importantly, when they need us most we’re there to deliver clinical care to an excellent standard.

We’re working with teams to embed this and we’re taking our internal accreditation system to the next level. Services collate evidence of their quality improvements and some will work with the Centre for Perfect Care, others who make strong progress can go for the rigorous Safe, Timely, Effective, Efficient, Equitable, Person-centred Leadership (STEEEP-L) award. It’s something all teams should aspire to reach and it’s an attainable goal as we’re all within touching distance of it.

Last week I was delighted to award the STEEP-L accreditationNorthwood house.jpg to the community mental health team from Northwood House in Kirkby. The evaluation process is a rigorous one, and you’ll recall the same honour has only been bestowed on HMP Liverpool and Eden ward so far. The award is championed nationally by the Chief Nurse and to be achieved within Mersey Care requires a comprehensive examination of a team’s work culminating in a presentation to a panel of senior leaders.

The Northwood House team, part of Local Division, were unanimously awarded ‘excelling’ following their exceptional presentation of the reach of their service, highlighting issues needing addressing and lessons to learn for the future.

The contribution from a service user, and the powerful experiences he described and how the team have supported him, really does bring home the value of the work we do. Lots of effort goes into achieving this and I’m really pleased we introduced the accreditation process. For as long as I’ve been at the Trust, Kirkby CMHT has shone as a team so it’s wonderful we have a mechanism to describe that here. You can see the team at work in the short video below, which formed part of their presentation. They’ll be invited to the executive’s safety huddle next month as well so we can really capture and act on their learning.  

You can see part of the team’s video presentation here, including a session with a service user who was happy to share his experiences with the panel and with you. Which team will be next, I wonder?

We’re not back at business as usual, but we can start to look ahead with positivity. Last week I set out some of our organisation’s strategy and our plans for 2021 onwards and now it’s time to mention the return of a favourite - the Positive Achievement Awards.

positive acheivments awards.png

These awards recognise the good work, commitment to caring, personal and collective achievement of everyone connected to physical health, mental health, learning disability and addiction services across our footprint. 

Nominations will open next month, so start thinking about who you know whose roles really stand out. Please take a moment to recall those around you and the amazing care and contributions you’ve seen. We’ll have categories that reflect care, innovation, quality and, as you would expect, specifically for exceptional contributions during the pandemic. 

Eligible nominees could be a Mersey Care employee, seconded staff, students on placement or work experience or anyone in our army of volunteers. And, as ever, you can nominate a patient or service user or carer for their contributions, too. You can also nominate individuals and teams from our partner organisations and other stakeholders across the patch. The judging will be in early June with a live virtual ceremony on 22 June, where we’ll announce the winners and have some positive reflection online. I’m afraid you won’t get a dance, but you can certainly dress up!

We’ll be in touch with all last year’s winners to arrange collection of their trophies and we’re making plans for a further event towards the end of 2021 when we can share the celebrations with new colleagues from NWB. Can you all please look out for the details and categories for this year and the forms to make your nominations. These will come online from 3 May, so please get thinking and let’s commemorate an extraordinary year’s work.

I’ll finish this week’s blog with a mention for another encouragement to learn from the last year. Mersey Care is one of the Liverpool Health Partners (LHP), a group of 12 NHS and Higher Education Institutions across Cheshire and Merseyside whose objectives include increasing research capacity. Research has played an important role over the past year in helping health care services tackle the pandemic.

Our staff have also been in the centre of the pandemic, not only providing vital health care but as a result, gaining clinical and service provision experiences. We’re now seeking out ideas for research themes in collaboration with LHP which will be developed through workshops into research projects. I’d like to encourage anyone interested to take a few minutes to complete this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RXKBTD3

Prof Joe Rafferty CBE
Chief Executive