I make no apology if I’ve said some of these things before – some maybe time and time again – but it’s really important to recognise some of the actions we need to take, individually and collectively, to make the progress we need and so desperately want to make against the pandemic.
I know we will all have been disappointed with the extension of the current ‘lockdown’ restrictions into July, but this is a reality check reflecting where we are. I believe we can make a difference and now is the time for both colleagues in the Trust and people across all communities to do that.
There are four critical things we can do:
- We must continue to respect and follow the restrictions and guidelines that are in place not just nationally but specifically in Lancashire, where the community infection rates and admissions to hospital are greater than elsewhere and rising every day.
- Whether you have been vaccinated or not, you must wear a facemask inside places like shops and other public spaces, if you’re moving around a restaurant or where you cannot properly social distance. This is absolutely the case in all health care and hospital settings for staff, patients and any visitors. Please, protect those around you, it’s not that difficult to do but incredibly effective at curbing the spread of the virus.
- Another obvious and well worn ‘ask’. Wash or sanitise hands regularly. It’s a basic hygiene routine that can again make such a difference.
- Social distancing. A new phrase in our vocabulary but again so critical in preventing the spread of the virus. If you can stay two metres away from others then please do.
In addition, in Lancashire we are advised also against travelling around and out of the immediate area if we don’t need to and inviting people into our homes. The warm weather is making this last one easier, which is great as it is much safer to meet up outdoors with family and friends.
We are fortunate to have been highlighted for more support by the Government to help us get these high community infection rates down. We have surge capacity available which includes regular testing to see if you have the virus with no symptoms and could be unknowingly passing it onto others.
If you are feeling off or unwell or have just been in contact with someone who has since tested positive, please get tested and self-isolate until you have the results to avoid giving it to anyone else. I know it is tempted to pop to the shops and stock up on supplies in case you have to formally isolate, but that small activity will spread the virus further and to people who may not be well prepared to fight it.
Lastly, please get your vaccination. There are a range of places to do this and it’s very easy to arrange. The teams across Lancashire are vaccinating thousands of people every day and the system is well managed and quick. Once you have your first dose of either the Pfizer of Astra Zeneca vaccines the risk of being hospitalised or dying from Covid reduces significantly and once you have had a second dose, the efficacy is very high indeed. Vaccines are safe and effective and I firmly believe they’re the way we eventually get out of this.
Make no mistake this horrific virus, which is continually mutating into different strains, has not gone away and we are seeing more people needing hospital care each week. They range from teenagers to older people. All are very poorly and need our help.
I am proud of everyone who is working their socks off to provide the very best safe, personal and effective care to our Covid positive patients and support their families as well as each other. But people are tired, morale is low and this wave has come sooner than expected. Also, remember that in addition to Covid and all other services running both in health care settings and in the community:
- Colleagues in A&E also continue to see record numbers of people attending every day and night for care, help, support and advice. There’s no doubt that you should come in if you have a life threatening injury or illness but there are many people who could have saved themselves (and others) a long wait for something that could have been treated in a different healthcare setting.
- A&E is also very busy. It is there to treat something serious or life threatening. If you come in to be seen for something minor, colleagues are tied up away from someone who needs care more urgently or maybe, even, from having a short break and a cup of tea in a long and relentless shift which would be something I’d like to see them do more.
- Colleagues across the rest of the hospital are working hard to restore our services and see as many people as possible for routine and scheduled operations and treatment as we can. Whilst this is on top of responding to Covid and managing the huge pressures in A&E, we’re determined to do it if it means helping people gain a better quality of life.
Please, share this message if you’re reading it online or on social media. You might think you have heard it before, but it has never been more important. We need to let people know where we are and then encourage and persuade them to do everything possible to help us to control the spread of Covid in our communities.
Please, tell friends and family that infection rates are rising but that we can each play a part in bringing them down.
We can tackle this and beat it together, but we must act.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust