I don’t know if your gardens or local streets are the same as in our local area, but it seems the leaves have decided to come down in one fell swoop this year. It’s a true sign that Summer has finally faded and we’re well and truly into Autumn. It’s always struck me as a particular trait of the NHS that we don’t appear to have an ‘Autumn’ – as soon as the summer holidays are over, and often before, all the talk turns to ‘winter’ and ‘winter planning’.
This year is no different, in fact if anything it’s even more so. And with the recent news of a resurgence in coronavirus infection rates, I know that for our managers and frontline staff, it feels like we are taking a deep breath before we step up our efforts again. When the history books are written, I thing we can truly be proud of how the NHS in general, our local system and our individual Trust, rose to the challenge of the first Covid wave. Our task now is to do all we can to do the same in whatever second wave may come our way in the coming months.
Fortunately, we have learnt much – and developed much in terms of infrastructure, new working patterns, new communications and engagement channels – which gives us the best possible foundations on which to build. But there are some other fundamentals that we need to constantly remember if we are to be as successful over the next six months as we have been in the past.
COVID-19 – WHAT YOU MUST DO
I know that most of you will have read the advice in Jonathan O’Brien’s COVID Update last week on what we MUST all do to protect ourselves and others. But I would really like to repeat and emphasise the fundamentals – of which the MOST fundamental is that if you can effectively work from home, you MUST do so until at least 31 March 2021.
You will see this beginning to be displayed this week in posters around all our Trust locations, and I would also urge you to download a copy of this poster by clicking on the picture and displaying it in your own shared areas, noticeboards and kitchens.
We have also created a new film you can watch and share below and we are putting the guidance onto our Learning Management System and asking all staff to confirm they have read and understand it.
And then, of course, the most important thing is for us all to adhere to its key messages.
To confirm – the four fundamentals are as follows:
- SELF-ISOLATE for at least 10 days and get a Covid Test if you or a member of your household has symptoms of COVID-19
- Wear a FACE MASK in ALL indoor areas of the Trust. The ONLY exception to this is where a staff member is in a room ALONE.
- If you can effectively WORK FROM HOME over the winter, by which we mean until at least 31st March 2021, you MUST do so and not enter ANY of the Trust’s sites without your Line Manager’s advance permission
- Staff who CAR SHARE to and from work, need to wear mask.
CONTINUING HEALTH AND WELLBEING AND PRACTICAL SUPPORT FOR WORKING FROM HOME
We have all learnt much since March about the practical realities of working from home, as well as the personal challenges it can pose for individuals. I would really like to emphasise to you all the full range of health and wellbeing resources we have available for all our staff, as well as the wider range of methods we have for anyone to raise and questions or concerns – completely confidentially if necessary.
Our core message to everyone during these challenging times is simple – you are not alone and we are here to help and support you in whatever way you need.
- there are a full range of health and wellbeing advice, resources, tools and tips available for free to you via the Health and Wellbeing pages on our website;
- if you have a practical question or wish to raise an issue about specific working arrangements, you can speak to your Line Manager or send an e-mail to the dedicated Covid-19 e-mail address;
- if you have any concerns at all for your own wellbeing or need to speak to someone, confidentially if necessary, you can access either the national confidential NHS staff support helpline or our own staff counselling services via the numbers on our Speak to Someone webpage;
- If you have any concerns about safety or working practices and you wish to raise them confidentially, you can either contact our Freedom To Speak Up Guardian or directly and entirely confidentially with myself via the Dear Peter website
BUILDING ON OUTSTANDING FOUNDATIONS AND TEAMWORK
Whilst we have been putting so much effort into dealing with the challenges of extraordinary times, there are some things that traditionally take place around this time of year that it’s important not to miss.
One of the most important – in fact one of our central legal obligations – is to hold an AGM and publish our Annual Report. This year we did this in a truly innovative way – entirely online, using video and Microsoft Teams to deliver a striking event, including holding a live online Q&A session with local stakeholders.
We had over 40 people attend the event live, but it was even more rewarding to see the – literally – thousands of subsequent views of our films and content via our Trust website and social media channels. It was also fantastic to see our efforts being praised by the NHS Regional Office as an “extraordinary example of innovation”.
Like all of our Executive Team and our Chair, David Rogers, I thoroughly enjoyed being filmed in front of a “Green Screen” in a properly socially-distanced way in our makeshift studio in the Medical School Hub and subsequently see ourselves transported as if by magic by our Comms Team to locations across the Combined estate. It was a really striking way for us to highlight the wide range of services and settings delivered by our services and staff.
You can watch all of our contributions – and download our new Annual Report – on our dedicated AGM 2020 webpage by clicking here – or watch my own review of the year below:
One of the highlights was a truly emotional film tribute produced by the Trust celebrating the contribution of our own often hidden support staff to those working on the frontline. Many thanks to everyone across the Trust who agreed to take part in it.
The film “NHS – Save the Hero” has since been watched more than 1,500 times and its closing message to our colleagues in the wider NHS and care system is both heartfelt and powerful –
“This film is dedicated in gratitude and recognition to all of our NHS and care colleagues who have given their lives saving others during Covid-19. To call you heroes doesn’t even come close”
A little bird told me it moved one of my Exec colleagues – who shall remain nameless – to tears!
CONGRATULATIONS TO LORRAINE HOOPER
Finally, it’s with a bittersweet mix of pleasure and sadness that I can give you some news about our fantastic Executive Director of Finance, Performance and Estates, Lorraine Hooper.
Lorraine joined us in early 2019 and it’s a measure of her impact and talent that it feels at one and the same time a mere blink of an eye since she did so, but something that has always been there as a fundamental ingredient in our success and progress. Lorraine delivered our 20th and 21st consecutive years of financial balance – which, as someone from a finance background, I can assure everyone is a truly remarkable track record of success and achievement. On a personal note, I have also always valued and appreciated her support, professionalism, resilience and great humour.
It’s no surprise, therefore, to see that others in the NHS want to benefit from her remarkable abilities. Lorraine informed me last week that she has been appointed as Executive Director of Finance, Information and Estates at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust. This is a great opportunity for Lorraine to further progress her NHS career and the whole Board have joined me in congratulating her.
Fortunately, we are not losing Lorraine quite yet, as she has agreed with us and her future employers that she will continue in post for some months until later in the New Year. This will provide welcome stability to us all throughout the winter months, as well as giving us good time to identify and recruit someone who can rise to the considerable challenge of building on Lorraine’s achievements and track record.