Thank you for your kind comments about this blog. It has been another difficult week for everyone in Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, the wider healthcare system and the NHS as a whole. If you are suffering with Covid or close to someone who is struggling with this terrible virus, the stress, fatigue, frustration, pure worry and perhaps even anger at times, will be familiar to you too. I’m so sorry to those that continue to lose loved ones to this terrible disease. We really are doing everything we possibly can to care for as many people as possible in the most compassionate way.
It’s a simple truth that we are only three weeks into 2021 and those, albeit restricted, New Year celebrations that were loaded with hope for progress and a return to our normal lives. In stark contrast we have instead seen a significant and sustained rise in people infected, community transmission and, most disappointingly, the number of people dying each day across the UK.
It is an undoubtedly sobering moment, but I do want to try and restore some of the hope and determination we all felt on January 1 with an update on the magnificent progress we are making with administering the vaccine.
To date, the hospital hub at Blackpool Victoria has vaccinated more than 7,000 people which is such a tremendous achievement. Over 4,000 of these were staff, which I can assure you will help us enormously with the number of colleagues who have had to isolate or be off sick with Covid in recent months. From this weekend the team will move to working seven days a week and the hub is looking to relocate to a bigger area to provide room for more vaccinators and more patients. By the end of January, we will have doubled the number of vaccines we’re able to administer every day.
In addition, next week Blackpool will celebrate the opening of a new mass vaccination centre at the iconic Winter Gardens. To ‘celebrate’ this might seem like an interesting concept – but I firmly believe it should be remembered as a landmark moment in our history.
There, of course, still questions about why the second dose of the vaccine has been delayed from three weeks to 12 weeks after your first one. Put simply, this allows twice as many people to get their first dose and the second dose only provide a slightly increased protection from the virus. So, nationally, the vaccination programme is aiming to vaccinate more people with less vaccine rather than less people with more. This approach should help everyone in the NHS by reducing both the significant increases in people becoming infected with Covid in our communities and the rising numbers of hospital admissions.
Please, when you are called come forward and have your vaccination. Being vaccinated is the way we start to get out of this terrible situation. It is our road out of Covid, the crippling restrictions and the isolation from our loved ones and everything we hold dear in life. Help us to help you to stay as safe as it is possible to be in these uncertain times.
I am so, so proud of those in the Trust who have worked with and received huge support from partners across the Fylde Coast. To get this system up and running so quickly and effectively is a huge achievement. I’d like to thank everyone involved and acknowledge that the team effort, the resilience, hard work and determination, cannot be underestimated. You’ve done an amazing job.
I am aware that we continue to stand down some elective procedures but please know we are tracking these on an individual basis and will make sure we contact and reschedule everyone who is waiting as soon as it is possible. If you have had your operation postponed I am sorry, I know how difficult and stressful this is. We are redeploying staff into critical and enhanced care wards though, so everything we are doing is releasing resource that is so desperately needed elsewhere.
Staff are working flat out across the hospitals, not just in Blackpool but in Clifton and Rossall hospital sites and across our community to support people suffering from this dreadful disease. I want to say thank you. You’re doing an incredible job in the most difficult conditions.
In other news, we have appointed a new Chair to the Trust. Steve Fogg will join the Board in February after current Chair Pearse Butler announced he would move on after more than two years in post.
Steve, a former Managing Director with BAe Systems, is well known on the Fylde Coast for his work with the Pride of Place Board for Blackpool, Chair of the Fylde Coast Responsible Business Network and has recently joined the Board at Blackpool and Fylde College.
Steve was appointed following a rigorous process involving colleagues, the regional NHS team and local stakeholders. We all felt he would bring a great deal of experience and enthusiasm as well as a passion for the local area and staff well being in particular. He inspired the panel will his approach and he’ll bring a great deal to the team. He is passionate about the region, bringing people together and supporting a climate of positive mental health among staff. This is something I feel very strongly about myself and I have no doubt we will work well together to ensure our staff have access to everything and anything they need to support their health and well being.
There are a lot of predictions being shared about what will happen now. I want to say our expectations are that we will continue to see high hospital admissions throughout the rest of this month and into February. Then, we hope, we will see the effects of lockdown really impact on people being infected. It is hard, but please do continue to follow the rules.
Thanks again for everything you are doing, stay safe and do let me have any comments or questions you have. I’ll do my best to answer them.