This week I am determined not to talk about Covid and the impact it continues to have on everyone’s lives and instead I want to focus on two really positive things – great food and great people!
I think it goes without saying that both are very closely linked with everything the NHS stands for and their importance in the support and recovery of our patients is huge.
JOIN US AND CELEBRATE PRIDE
I hope it also goes without saying that the Trust values each and every colleague, but I do want to concentrate on colleagues, patients and families who are working across the Trust or accessing our services who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer (LGBTQ+).
This group of people is in focus across the country as part of national Pride month which runs throughout June and aims to celebrate diversity, as well as continue to throw a spotlight on some very serious issues such as discrimination and hate crime that sadly continues to feature prominently in the lives of this community.
This week we will be showing our support for LGBTQ+ colleagues, patients and their families. We have raised our rainbow flag at the entrance to Blackpool Victoria Hospital and I hope it sends a clear signal that everyone is welcome here, we value people equally and we license you to be yourself safe in the knowledge we will support you.
To many people Pride is a time to wear bright colours, be upbeat and energetic and embrace their own sexuality or show support for those who identify as LGBTQ+ around them. In ‘normal’ times we would be able to get involved in the wonderful, lively and vibrant events such as the Pride march through Blackpool as well as festivals and other events which raise up this community with messages to be confident and proud.
This year, as with so many of our plans, we’ve had to think of different ways of doing things and we have raised flags, encouraged people to wear rainbow colours and invited Pride Selfies on our social media channels.
I love it when people get involved and show their support. It becomes clear that we outnumber people who have outdated and archaic views about sexuality and I hope we help to raise awareness, challenge attitudes and ultimately change minds.
It is a difficult concept for me to understand those people that still carry, harbour and, at times, demonstrate negativity towards LGBTQ+ people for no other reason than sexuality.
I would like to be clear the Trust has zero tolerance on this. We’re perfectly clear: whether you’re a colleague, patient or visitor we won’t stand for any type of verbal or physical abuse, be it overt or in the form of any micro aggression. It’s not welcome and we won’t stand by and allow it. This Trust welcomes and values everyone equally. We encourage people to be themselves and be proud of who they are. We also license colleagues to call inappropriate behaviour out and stand up to people when they see injustice. I am most definitely proud of that.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
I also want to share some well-deserved recognition for our catering colleagues after I was fortunate enough to be invited down to the kitchens at Blackpool Victoria for a patient food tasting session.
It was without doubt a highlight of my week and I want to say thank you for making me feel so welcome and serving up some absolutely delicious food. I am delighted to be able to offer a five-star review for the team and all the menu items I experienced.
I am quite clear that catering teams are among the ‘unsung’ heroes of our hospitals and what they achieve by working together, day in day out, is just incredible.
Not just delicious, nutritious and varied food cooked largely from scratch on the premises each day, but served quickly so it’s hot and fresh to our patients, staff and visitors.
The team is an example of how working together effectively contributes to quality in the Trust. A production line for ward lunches creates more than 700 individually fulfilled trays each day in line with the menu choices provided by patients from their bedside. Each colleague works a station and the line never stops until all the lunches have been served and delivered.
In the background the team of chefs are making up varied menu choices in huge pans and crockery, mixing soup with blenders as big as themselves and creating cakes, desserts and puddings that evoke all sorts of memories of being in hospital as a child.
They work their magic in a well-run, organisation, clean and safe kitchen. And from my visit I can tell you they do it with pride.
Don’t forget, when our patients have enjoyed their lunch, each and every tray comes back into the kitchen to be dismantled, cleaned and stacked away ready for the next day. It’s a constant cycle of preparing and serving – and it creates the most important foundation for our patients to recover and return home.
What impressed me the most? Not the food, albeit it was great and really high quality. It was the camaraderie of the team and the way they were operating together. Colleagues – some of which have been working for the Trust for almost 40 years – smiling, committed to excellence, caring and compassionate about their role and doing everything to support each other and our patients. It was a brilliant experience.
Thank you to everyone I met and those I didn’t who are in our kitchens each and every day. It’s appreciated, you’re valued and you’re doing a marvellous job.
I said I wouldn’t mention it, but I will sign off with this continued ‘ask’. To reduce the number of people being admitted to hospital with Covid and the community infection rates we need you to carry on doing everything you can. This includes:
- Following Government guidance and restrictions – including the national ones and those introduced specifically for Lancashire
- Wearing a face mask on our premises and in public spaces
- Social distancing wherever possible
- Wash or sanitise your hands as often as you can
- Getting your vaccine – it is now open to everyone over 18
If we work together we can beat Covid and enable our lives to return to normal. Thanks for everything you are doing.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust