Dr David Fluck
Acting Chief Executive
You will, no doubt, have seen extensive media coverage about the ‘second wave’ of the Covid pandemic. Covid cases across the UK are rising and at ASPH we are seeing increasing numbers of suspected and confirmed patients.
The prospect of coping with a second wave, both professionally and personally, will naturally feel daunting. We all have our own unique set of circumstances and things that will worry us, be it related to work, home, physical or mental health, family members, childcare etc.
Having lived through the first wave of Covid we all know it will be a challenge. However, I know Team ASPH will rise to that challenge and I think there are positive things we can draw on.
We’ve lived through the first wave, learnt so much and are, naturally, much more prepared than we were in March at the start of the pandemic.
Unfortunately I was unable to join Team Talk last Friday but I heard from my executive colleagues that it was a great session with lots of interesting questions. One that jumped out was ‘what have been the top three lessons learned from the first wave of Covid and how will the Trust use these to shape our second wave response?’. I understand that Andrea and James answered the question jointly. Andrea reflected on the Infection Prevention and Control measures we introduced and continue to follow. James described the enormous operational changes we’ve made to services across the Trust, in order to separate planned and emergency work and keep patients safe. He also spoke about the Covid debrief sessions run with teams across the Trust and how we captured extensive feedback and learning to shape our response to future Covid waves.
As we now begin to mobilise our response to that second wave our priority remains the safety of patients, you and your families. In the coming weeks we will have to dynamically respond to changing, likely increasing, levels of Covid infection and the continuing commitment, professionalism and compassion of Team ASPH will be vital. The additional challenge this time will be to keep other, important, diagnostic, outpatient and elective services running as much as possible. Last time there was a national directive to reduce or suspend these services but we don’t anticipate this will be the case this time.
One thing we know many colleagues are struggling with is their children being sent home from school with illness and being unable to obtain timely testing through the national community programme. We know this is causing colleagues real frustration and anxiety as they are having to take time off work to care for their children – often for a two week period. In order to help with this we have opened our Trust testing capacity to families.
We also have ambitious plans to introduce a regular testing programme for all our staff. We feel this will enhance our existing infection prevention and control practice and allow us to continue to deliver a safe service for patients and safer working environment for us all. Further details will be available shortly outlining our plans.
In addition to our Covid focussed actions, we hope that you will need no reminder that the influenza season is fast approaching. We will be beginning the program of flu vaccination earlier than in years previously as preparedness for winter pressure will be vital. This annual vaccination program has been very successful in limiting the spread of flu in our hospitals and our community, but we want to do even better this year so please watch this space for further bulletins and make a real difference to all our health.
I know that many of you still feel tired and weary from the first Covid wave and the huge amount of work we’ve done in recent weeks and months to reinstate and change the way we operate other services. I hope that everyone has carved out the opportunity for a break and some rest over the summer, but if you haven’t please do take your leave. It’s more important than ever that we all have the opportunity to refresh and recharge and to unwind from the pressures of work. You will hopefully have received a letter from me in the last few days with details of the Wellbeing Day we are offering to all colleagues. I’d like everyone to take the day and enjoy the time. Please do identify a date that works for you and book this in with your manager.
We all know the weeks and months ahead, particularly going into winter, will be a challenge. Let’s continue to look after ourselves and each other and please let me know if you think there are other things we should be doing as a leadership team to support you.
With thanks for your ongoing support,
Dr David Fluck
Acting Chief Executive