Having written extensively about high profile visitors to the Trust in last week’s blog, I’m now going to concentrate on the importance of getting messages out there and providing support for some of the most vulnerable members of society.

I’ve been on several radio stations this week talking about suicide prevention and I can’t overstate the importance of raising awareness about this. The work of the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA), and others, is significant but ultimately it comes down to us all – everyone reading this blog – having some knowledge of what we can do to help.

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Some of you will be up to speed with the training, but if you haven’t clicked this link, please do so very soon. I saw another heart breaking Tweet the other day, which stated: “A member of a friend’s family had taken his life. His parents were blindsided, hadn’t seen it coming.” 

All too often we’re seeing and hearing these sorts of messages so let’s do what we can and learn from them. At the ZSA we are launching a few months’ worth of awareness raising in the form of a set of enjoyable challenges that will also help us all focus on the importance of understanding that suicide is preventable and not inevitable. Please consider, either in work or at home, signing up to our challenges, fundraising a little (but we will also accept a lot!) and making sure that we all spread our awareness messages. Remember, if the number isn’t zero, what’s the right number?

Two of our Chief Nurse’s Award winners have also been on the radio. Deputy Director of Nursing Jenny Hurst and Tinashe Baku, community lead for infection control, spoke to BBC Radio Merseyside about their awards and working through the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

They talked about keeping people safe and minimising the risks of transmission and both made similar points about the importance of having a good team around them and the mutual support from colleagues, especially during recent months, dealing with people’s concerns. Their sense of positivity and respect around their teams came across incredibly well.

There’s a Hebrew word, firgun. It’s a modern slang term for the genuine, unselfish delight or pride in the accomplishment of another. We don’t have a word like it in English and I like the concept a lot. We often say (and it’s common on social media) that we’re proud of work done by colleagues, which we’ve perhaps enabled as a partner or manager. Firgun covers this well. We’re proud to be part of something bigger. Sharing, but not basking, in the achievements reminds me of the progress our organisation has made with respect and civility in our teams and wider positive cultural changes. We’re a team, with a strong vocation, and working to the same goals. I know the pressures remain intense and people are tired, but this sense of being part of something positive is a comfort and a good thing.

At the recent Trust Board of Directors meeting, we discussed our Trust’s strategy, which focusses on pursuing clinical excellence, population health and integration in our services. As part of this, we need to develop a deep understanding of the people and communities we serve so we can identify new ways to improve our services and help them live healthier lives. When we set our operational priorities for 2021/22, we sought to balance progress towards this strategy with the ongoing management of and recovery from COVID-19.

During the pandemic, Provider Alliances in Liverpool and Sefton have not met as usual, although work streams have continued to support COVID-19 work. The Liverpool Provider Alliance will now work to support delivery of the three prioritised areas within the Liverpool City Plan, aligned to the COVID-19 response and recovery - inequalities, mental health and health and social care integration – notably for people with complex lives. The Sefton Provider Alliance has identified three priority workstreams with the Trust leading on the development of Integrated Care Teams and Complex Lives.

Mersey Care is the lead provider in the Cheshire and Mersey Adult Secure Lead Provider Collaborative (LPC) process. The LPC went live in shadow form on 1 April 2021, which means that LPC core team members are now shadowing NHS England/Improvement commissioning activities. North West LPCs all agree they’ll collectively go live on 1 October 2021 to help manage risks associated with phased implementation. Work continues to prepare for this, and we expect to ratify the business case next month.

It may be the height of the holiday season but we’re only weeks away from starting our flu campaign for the winter season.

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Last year it was a much lower concern with everyone in masks and mainly working at home. For example, out of 3.9 million patients at 385 GP practices in England monitored by the Royal College of General Practices at the height of the flu season in January, only 35 people had the flu. At that time, as one national newspaper reported, the flu positivity rate was basically zero. This year, many expect it to be back with a vengeance and praying on a population less prepared. The ‘biggest flu programme in history’ is planned by the Department of Health.

In Mersey Care, we expect to replicate our successful Maghull COVID-19 vaccination centre with a flu centre there this autumn. We anticipate it will also co-administer the COVID-19 booster vaccines there. Staff will be able to book an appointment for the vaccines using Simply Book Me. Staff may have questions, and some of the answers still await national decisions. The key is keeping everyone safe to practice, safe to stay well and safe not to infect others.

The efficacy of vaccinations has been proven time after time during this last year. As healthcare professionals and providers, we should be seen as leaders. Clinically vulnerable people are six times more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 than their peers. Together with the risks of flu transmission, that puts us all in a very clear position of responsibility.

Have a good week and keep safe.

 

Prof Joe Rafferty CBE

Chief Executive