The first week of this year has been busy and challenging but I want to start by sending my very best wishes to you and your family for the New Year.
The past 12 months really have been extraordinary due to our continued focus on the pandemic which began in February and has continued to dominate our services, particularly since October with a huge number of people needing care and support.
Covid has not gone away and I want to be realistic about what we’re facing in our hospitals and across the Lancashire community in the coming weeks. The prevalence of the virus within the North West and Lancashire in particular is increasing significantly each week. This will lead to an increase in people needing care in our hospitals and communities, including in urgent, emergency and critical care pathways.
Colleagues across the Trust are dealing with extraordinary workloads and this has been the case now for quite some time. They are tired and balancing the effects of the pandemic in their own lives but continue to do everything possible to provide safe, personal and effective care for people. We should not take this for granted and I want to say a genuine thank you to the whole team for their amazing resilience, sheer hard work and determination to make a difference. It is hugely valued and appreciated.
As Covid numbers continue to rise, there is no doubt we will continue to face enormous pressure but I am equally confident in our ability to get through this. It requires everyone to play their part of course and I want to encourage everyone to please follow the lockdown restrictions and stay at home wherever possible. When you do leave your house, wear a mask, maintain social distance from others and wash or sanitise your hands as regularly as you can. This makes a difference and it will help us to reduce transmission of the virus and in turn demand on the NHS.
I want to finish with some good news – which when you work in the NHS with some of the most inspiring and selfless people is thankfully never too hard to find.
The vaccine programme is well under way and, in my opinion, is a shining example of NHS staff at their very, very best. In the vaccine hub set up at Blackpool Victoria we have now vaccinated almost 5,000 people including over 80s, hospital staff and workers in care homes across the Fylde. We developed this service in an incredibly short period of time and have a focus over the next few weeks to vaccinate as many staff as we can. The demand for the vaccine is huge so please be patient as we will do everything we can to ensure everyone gets it as soon as possible. In the coming weeks the vaccination centre will also be up and running at the iconic Winter Gardens, Blackpool, operated with colleagues from across community healthcare settings and local GPs.
This is the light coming forward in the fight against the pandemic and I hope by Spring we will be in a much better place, with some real progress to be proud of.
I also want to mention Consultant Haematologist, Dr Sharran Grey, who received an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list for her work and dedication to blood transfusion services. This is a fantastic honour for Sharran and for the Trust as a whole and I am sure you will join me in congratulating her on this huge achievement.
The year ahead will offer its challenges. I am sure there will be tough periods but I know we have great people and great systems to meet these challenges together. Please continue to do all you can to help and support each other and ensure you look after your own health and wellbeing too. It’s really important. If you or someone you work with has started behaving differently it could be a sign that they are not OK. Please, do seek help. Our latest WELL newsletter is now available and includes lots of hints and tips to help support your wellbeing in these difficult times.
Thank you for everything you are doing.