National Director Contain NHS Test and Trace / PHE
As you will know I have been on secondment at NHS Test and Trace since the beginning of June and I wanted to reconnect with you all and give an update on what I’ve been doing, my plans going forward and importantly for my return to the Trust.
Firstly, I must say that I have really missed Team ASPH! As you will expect I have been in regular contact with both David, Andy and other members of the team over the past three months. It’s clear that David and the leadership team and indeed all of you have been doing a great job in challenging circumstances. I never doubted it and that confidence has made it much easier to be away from ASPH. However I am very much looking forward to returning, seeing you all and catching up on the huge amount of work I know you have all been doing towards restoring and recovering services, focusing on the North Star objective and preparations as we move into the Autumn / Winter.
I would say my time at NHS Test and Trace has been the most challenging and intense experience of my professional life to date. I have experienced the quite understandable intense scrutiny and public and political level of expectation and the complexity of seeking to align local and national responses to really difficult scenarios, as I have been working with others to respond to and manage Covid-19 outbreaks across the Country.
As you will no doubt have read in the national media the test and trace system was established at the end of May to break the chains of Covid-19 transmission to enable people to return to a more normal way of life.
The main focus of my work has been the development of policy and practice alongside the operationalisation of action to prevent and manage outbreaks – described as the ‘Contain Framework’. I have been working alongside local authorities and public health professionals to establish the approach, as well as building the knowledge base and capabilities necessary to be successful in that ambition. For more information about my role please see the recent article I was interviewed for in the Surrey Chambers of Commerce publication, and a short video I did reflecting on the learning I gained from my involvement in the response in Leicester and what has become known as the first local lockdown.
New experiences and roles offer learning and insight, I have learned a huge amount about myself and the experience has deepened my understanding of the depth and scale of the Covid-19 impacts and in particular the inequalities in our society. Much of my time and work has been focused in parts of the North of England, where we have seen outbreaks associated with deprivation, high density housing, those on low or no income, where the impact is revealed in some specific demographic groups and populations. Last week I spent some time in Oldham and an evening out in the town centre with the police and youth workers engaging with the local population and promoting Covid safe behaviour. I was so impressed with the sense of community, the local pride and the very real evidence of the challenge and the impact of the virus on the local people, their way of life and their health and well-being.
Although these issues have been brought into sharp focus by the virus they are not new and not unknown to us here in Surrey. My recent work has only served to reinforce my commitment to our role as an Anchor Institution and the steps we must take to build a resilient and connected community. Covid-19 isn’t going away anytime soon sadly and the virus doesn’t respect geography or institutional barriers and we need to be ready to keep those we care for safe within the Trust and across the community we serve. I have had the enormous privilege to meet and work alongside some inspirational local and community leaders over the last three months and I have seen some outstanding practice all of which I am keen to share with all of you and with colleagues across Surrey, as I personally re-focus on our work together.
The work I have been doing has felt really important and I hope I have made a difference but now I can’t wait to get back to Team ASPH.
I really hope that you are all taking care of yourselves and each other and have carved out the opportunity for some time off work. It’s been a challenging, intense and difficult time for us all and it’s really important that we do rest and recharge – see you in October.
With best wishes for now,