Professor Joe Rafferty CBE

Joe is the Chief Executive of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and was chosen as one of LJMU’s Bicentenary year honorary fellows because of his impressive career in the NHS and the positive impact of his leadership in the field across Merseyside and beyond.

He was presented with his honour to a packed audience by Professor Keith George, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at a special ceremony at St George’s Hall that took place in November 2023.

Joe was awarded a PhD in molecular genetics at Queen’s University Belfast in 1987. He spent the following 12 years researching drug resistance in cancer at the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research in Manchester. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles on this topic and related areas. He then had a career change and joined the NHS in 1999 as a national trainee in the NHS General Management Training Scheme.

Joe was appointed Chief Executive of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust in 2012. He has led a significant expansion of the organisation, almost trebling it in size. The trust is now one of the largest specialised integrated care providers in the NHS, encompassing inpatient and community mental health, community physical health and learning disability and addiction services. Joe was instrumental in Mersey Care becoming the first mental health trust in the country to publicly commit to a zero-suicide policy in 2015.

Joe has held senior NHS leadership roles as regional director (NHS North West) of strategy and commissioning and chief executive of a primary care trust. He has been named one of the ‘Top 50 NHS CEOs’ by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) for six consecutive years. He has appeared in the Health Service Journal 100 (HSJ100) list of the most influential people in healthcare in the UK.

Joe is also a founder of the Zero Suicide Alliance UK (ZSA), co-formed in 2017 and hosted by Mersey Care NHS Foundation and funded via Mersey Cares NHS Charity. It aims to educate individuals and organisations on suicide awareness and prevention.

Joe was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours List for services to mental health and suicide prevention.