FIRSTLY a big thank you to all of you.
I know the current situation is difficult, out of work as well as in work. I wish I could tell you when it will be end, but that is not quite clear just yet.
We are beginning to plan for a phased return to near normality though. However, for now, I just want you to know that everything you are doing is greatly appreciated. I also think it is important to acknowledge the efforts of your friends and families as well and I pass on my gratitude to them.
Thanks to everybody (pretty much) following the guidance, the coronavirus challenge, while brutal, has been more manageable than it might have been. Although we have had, very sadly, a number of our patients pass away from
this awful infection, more are overcoming it and going home to recover.
I cannot stress enough how important it is that this guidance around hand washing, social distancing, avoiding unnecessary travel – continues to be followed. And remember, it is just as applicable to us in the hospitals as it is outside of them. We must show an example and be very careful to follow our own advice.
While hand washing is, for us, second nature, the same cannot be said about social distancing. We have seen occasions where staff are too close together in corridors, or around desks, or outside. I know it is difficult sometimes – but it is not impossible. There are far less people about – we have reduced the footfall into the hospital considerably through following national advice around visitors; doing clinics over the telephone; cancellation of some services; and colleagues working from home where possible. If someone gets too close to you, you absolutely can, and should, tell them to step away.
We should feel the same way about this as we do about hand washing. It is totally acceptable to challenge people on
hand washing – it has to be the same with social distancing. We have placed more two metre markers around the
corridors at BVH as a reminder and as a guide.
I also want to talk about PPE equipment, do my best to reassure you, and perhaps address some of your understandable anxiety. There has been a bit of a frenzy in the media, and the situation around PPE shortages is a national, if not global, issue.
However, your safety really is my priority. We have not run out of any PPE and currently our stock levels continue to
be adequate. In addition, we have mutual aid arrangements where, if there was a risk of us running out of an element of PPE, we would be supported by neighbouring Trusts. This is an agreement across Lancashire and South
As part of the media coverage – indeed through your own experience – you may be aware of the amount of PPE that
is required when dealing with highly infectious patients. It is enormous. That is why it is so important that we follow
guidance and use the equipment appropriately. Now, what do we mean by appropriately? We mean that everyone
who should be in PPE, wears all necessary PPE, all the time they need to. That is appropriate use. But please don’t
think I take your worries lightly, I don’t, and in an ideal world we’d be overstocked with PPE. But we aren’t. We do
however have enough.
Finally for today, I want to say how glad I am to be part of the NHS and of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust. I have always felt that we are a family, but never more so than now. Thank you all for that.