This week I thought it would be useful to reflect on the current Covid situation and the impact this may have locally and for Team ASPH.
You will, no doubt, know that the number of Covid infections is increasing steeply across the UK and there is recognition that we are now in the second wave of the pandemic. The number of patients admitted to hospital with suspected or confirmed Covid is increasing nationally and the death rate is rising. To provide a quick snapshot; yesterday (11th Oct) 12,872 new Covid positive cases were reported across the UK. This compares to 3,539 one month ago (11th Sep) and 1,148 two months ago (11th Aug). You can take a look at the latest statistics here.
Much of the media attention has been upon the north of the country, with news of high numbers of cases per 100,000 population, local outbreaks and lockdowns. Whilst it is clear the numbers are higher in this part of the UK, cases are also rising locally across Surrey. It’s really important we keep abreast of the local situation so we can prepare and respond accordingly.
As incidence increases locally the risk of community transmission into the Trust increases. In the last couple of days I’ve received some concerning updates in my inbox which I thought it would be useful to share; not to raise alarm but to ensure you are all in possession of the information to enable us to be best prepared. The table below summarises the situation across the South East and you can see that the number for Surrey is comparatively high. The map below shows the escalation status of the Surrey boroughs and it’s clear that those surrounding ASPH - Woking, Elmbridge, Runnymede and Spelthorne are all areas of concern.
The escalating situation is clearly worrying and I know that talk of the second wave creates anxiety in us all, professionally and personally. I feel it too and understand. I think David described this really well in his message at the end of September – that we all have our own unique set of circumstances and things that will worry us.
I do, however, draw reassurance from the evidence of the way in which you responded during the first wave, which was just extraordinary in terms of commitment, innovation, pace and scale. We have all learned so much about ourselves, each other, the virus and therapies that I truly believe we are better placed this time. The challenges will also be different – we are aiming to continue to provide as much non-Covid care as possible and I know everyone is tired, so we need to have to focus on taking care of ourselves and each other in order that we can continue to provide care to our community.
Many of things we will need to do to manage a second wave are already in place. We’ve established a new infection prevention and control strategy, which you can familiarise yourself with by watching this short animation. This is the basis for the new operating model, shaping how we design and run services safely. We’re running around 50% of our outpatients activity virtually; we’ve moved services to Ashford and other locations to separate planned and emergency care and keep patients and the team safe; we’ve enabled remote working for a large number of colleagues; and restricted visiting to reduce footfall and minimise the risk of infection transmission.
These are just a few examples of the extraordinary number of changes we implemented at pace. Many of these changes were not easy. Restricting visiting has felt especially hard for patients and colleagues and I know we have taken a strict line on this, sometimes more so than other trusts. However, I remain confident that in the face of the local infection rates this is the right course of action and I would ask that you help your colleagues and patients understand this, alongside doing whatever is possible to enable patients to connect with their loved ones.
As the numbers continue to increase locally it’s vital we sustain our efforts and ensure standards do not slip in any way. The national ‘Hands, Face, Space’ messaging applies to us all and we must take personal responsibility for good hand hygiene, to wear a mask whilst moving around the hospital and to maintain the 2m + social distancing rule at all times. This is important in keeping us safe inside the hospitals but it’s also really important at home to keep your families safe.
I know the coming weeks and months will be challenging. Looking after your own health and wellbeing will be really important so do please access the wealth of resources available. If you have annual leave to use please do use it – and don’t forget to book your wellbeing day if you haven’t already!
I’m so glad to be back and as we head into the tough winter period I wouldn’t want to be working with any other team.
Stay safe and best wishes for the week ahead,