Getting it Right: Chief Executive’s Blog @JR_MerseyCare

Joe Rafferty

Joe Rafferty

Smoke Free Review

I’d like to start this week’s blog by discussing our decision to become a smoke free Trust, which brought us in line with National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

The biggest stage of that process took place in August when Local Services followed the other divisions and introduced new rules so that service users, carers, visitors and staff would no longer be able to smoke, including e-cigarettes, on Trust sites. Our new Specialist Learning Disability Division was given a little longer to implement their smoke free plan and intended to do so from January.

The implementation phase of going smoke free has not been without its problems. There has been a rise in incidents and feedback from staff is that their time is being taken up dealing with smoking issues rather than concentrating on providing high quality care for our patients.

We are a Trust that welcomes and encourages staff to point out problems so we can continue to develop as an organisation and address any flashpoints or major issues. In this particular case we have listened to your concerns and, following a meeting of the Trust’s Executive Board, we have decided to temporarily suspend our smoke free policy for the Local Division. Current arrangements will remain in place for the Secure Division and the plans for the Specialist Learning Disability Division going smoke free are unchanged.

The decision has not been taken lightly and Mersey Care continues to believe that smoke free services remains in the best interests of service users, carers and staff. 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.

By monitoring the progress and impact on the smoke free policy implementation, however, it is clear there have been more problems with that process than were anticipated. We have spoken to Local Division managers, got feedback from frontline services and believe this temporary pause for the Local Division on our smoke free policy is the best option.

This suspension is strictly on a temporary basis for the Local Division and will allow the Trust to review our current plans. During this period we will consider what additional interventions may be available to help with successful implementation and become a completely smoke free organisation.

Further information will be given to you all in due course but for now, I’d just like to thank all the staff that have put so much effort into implementing our smoke free policy. I would also like to urge all staff to continue helping service users to access advice and practical support to stop smoking where they can and where appropriate.


Medium Secure Unit

 I promised earlier this year that I would update you on any progress made in our ambitions to build a state of the art medium secure unit on the Maghull site to replace our current MSU at Scott Clinic.

We shared our plans with the local community last year during several consultation events and we’re now ready to update staff and members of the public about the development. More information on the dates of those meetings can be found here.


Safeguarding changes


For those that are not aware, the Safeguarding team has experienced a number of changes in recent weeks and months, which may have caused a little confusion for those of you that wanted to contact them.

I thought it might be a good idea to outline the changes, which you can access here.



Positive Achievement Awards

We have just a week to go before the nominations close for this year’s Positive Achievement Awards, so can we all think about who may merit a nomination, particularly for Recovery Champion, Health and Wellbeing Campaigner and Lifetime Achievement Award, who are all low on nominations.

Take a look around you at friends and colleagues and think how they have made a difference over the last year, or maybe over their lifetime. You can make your nominations here.


And finally…

 Many congratulations to the patients at Ashworth Hospital, who have won 20 awards from the Koestler Trust for their art. The Koestler Trust annually give awards to offenders and those in secure psychiatric services for their art and this year Ashworth has excelled.

The patients won two gold awards, one silver, two bronze, eight were commended and seven highly commended.


Joe Rafferty 

Chief Executive




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