Claire Murdoch, with Roy Lilley

I have mentioned before what I feel links all the speakers I have ever seen at Roy Lilley’s Health Chats: it is the passion the interviewees have.  It is more than vocation, which must be where it begins, I assume. Most of those I have heard interviewed have been in and around the NHS most of their working lives. The passion is not just part of their make up, or a line on a CV.  It is the umbrella over their whole, the glue, the oil, the Raison d’etre.

Claire Murdoch

Claire Murdoch exuded it in everything she said and had done and is doing.  Even to the point of giving the Lilley a good going over! (He is only as interrupting as John Humphrys like as he is, if he likes and respects the interviewee. I think I would worry if he suddenly became nice…)

Roy, Claire and sponser Michael

Roy Claire and Sponsor Michael (Fab socks!)

I think though, I missed out on one bit. Are we over medicalising mental health? Is the model of care clinical or what? I think it dripped out later but not as a straight answer? Check out the NHS Health Chat You Tube recording here to see if you agree, and also if you agree with my opinions here.

Mental Health certainly has changed from the Asylum days (although asylum is quite a positive, cosy and protective word, just lost in negative connotations.). And in 30 years time we know that people will look at what we do now, and think ‘they did WHAT?”, like we do to our predecessors.

I got some new stock phrases that I may have to steal. “Rich and textured view”. “Peer support workers”. “Lived experience”. Like those? There were more…(I knew peer support workers, honestly.  The others felt new to me, and felt apposite.)

First question was about the impossibility of recruiting 10 000 staff by the end of the 5 year forward view. (5YFV).  Spread over 44 STPs that is only 300 each…which does sound more possible? And retaining just 1% more than today gives 6000 extra workforce anyway…

And one way to achieve that? Claire hit back at Roy’s assertion that Mental Health is hard.  “We have got to get away from that thinking – always describing the arena as awful and tough. That’s not my experience. And not the experience of the people I work with.” Talk up the job, and ignore The Daily Mail? Maybe easier to say than do?

Next excellent forehand return was to the rejoinder “so what stopped you being patient facing and going into management?” The reply – “I am still,patient facing, and always will be”.  Lilley trailing 30 love already…

It felt like her rise through to the top had been serendipitous rather than driven.  I loved the reason she applied for the Chief Exec role at her Trust. “I didn’t want anyone else to do it”. Fab!  Ruth Carnell was on the panel, and said to her that there would be a time in her first twelve months when she would hit a wall and wouldn’t know what to do.  Claire was congratulating herself on getting past her 12 month point.  But it did happen, after 14 months.  She phoned Ruth, 9 pm on a Friday (as she had offered), and it worked for her.  A peer support worker is needed by us all! (Why do crises always happen at 9 pm on a Friday, with the phone boring with vitriolic reporters? The only solution is to go home at 8!)

Listening to Claire you do get the feeling that this is the time for Mental Health to make the most of its positive standing in the 5YFV. And the extra funding  (which has happened, and continues to happen, and is actually a positive return on investment. There has been an explosion in demand, but the reason for that is simple.  We are talking more, being more open to discuss and so intervene…

There were a lot of initiatives, copiable and shared.

  • Navigo at Hull. Bought a Garden Centre.  So people being treated could have a job as part of that treatment.  This goes alongside having a good place to live, and someone to love….
  • Lincoln Young Mums club – Peer support Network par excellence.
  • Talking therapies for the elderly – one of the most effective talking therapy results.  You forget that loneliness kills…
  • Early intervention – prevention are at least preventing escalation, is becoming the norm.

There is currently a greater appetite for Mental Health than there has ever been.  There is a very talented workforce. And a great team at NHS England.  There is less stigma.  More organisations are putting it positively and centrally in their training and support services…even the NHS it would seem!

The twitterarti fed back how much they enjoyed Claire’s masterclass in handling the Lilley. One assertion she didn’t like was met with a 15 second silence – just excellent, I thought!

She thanked her parents for making sure she was a glass half full person. And this meant she wanted to celebrate the fact that our MH provision is world class. If the people you work with are courageous, sympathetic and amazing, as Claire suggested, then it is hardly surprising that this is so.

Yes, pathways of care will have to continue to be worked on to remain properly inter grated across all parts of the service.  And people with dementia will number 1 million in 2025, and how will we manage that?

If MH has come of age, then I have to feel we will cope well.  And it does feel in very good hands.


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