Work together and think of each other

Prof. Nicki LathamYou’ll have noticed that for the last couple of weeks the Trust has published ‘guest blogs’ in the weekly spot usually reserved for the Chief Executive Kevin McGee, who has been on well-earned and equally well-deserved annual leave.

Kevin is due back next week and then only has a couple of weeks left before he heads off to his new role at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, as well as leading the system’s Provider Collaborative Board which will bring all NHS provider organisations in Lancashire and South Cumbria together to work and collaborate as a wider team.

He’s not the only one to grab a break, judging by the number of out of office replies currently pinging back to emails.

I genuinely think it’s great colleagues in the Trust and right across the wider health and social care system are getting to have some time away from work to rest, recuperate or do anything else that’s needed. It is so well deserved and whilst it remains incredibly busy I am a firm believer that you cannot pour from an empty cup.

If you’re having some down time, please enjoy it guilt-free and return reenergised and ready for the challenges ahead. These are many as it continues to be difficult for our teams across both hospital sites and community settings.

The Trust continues to see high numbers of Covid-positive patients who need to be admitted to hospital and helped to recover. This week we have had around 30 inpatients and this number has been high for quite some weeks, as a reflection that the area has some of the highest community infection rates in the country. This impacts on the number of people who are most affected by the virus, with high numbers needing to be admitted for the highest level of support in Critical Care.

We are conscious that the impact of relaxing restrictions in wider society as part of ‘freedom day’ on July 19 has yet to be fully seen and, of course, the number of people enjoying a staycation in one of our many local resorts creates more opportunity for Covid to spread.

We always have a summer pressure in the Trust as millions of people flock to enjoy the holidays on the Fylde Coast but I have no doubt that Covid and its impact on foreign holidays this year will create a further dimension and even more pressure and demand on our services over the next few weeks.

It would be remiss of me not to mention specifically that we continue to see very high numbers of people attending A&E and our urgent care centres and these do, unfortunately, include a good percentage of people who have a very real concern or issue, but not necessarily urgent or life-threatening illness or injury.

A&E settings have been and continue to be incredibly busy right across the North West and the country as a whole and colleagues remain exhausted, already depleted from our relentless response to Covid, but now dealing with these further, protracted demands on our services. This is both hospital and the community.

The spirit and dedication of teams right across the Trust always blows me away, smiles almost always firmly in place and a ‘can do’ approach and welcome is always extended to colleagues, patients and their families alike. We can never thank them enough.

But what we can do is offer our support. Behind these brave faces are people who are struggling to do their jobs, manage their lives and hold it all together. I want you to think about them before you head into A&E to be treated.

The comms team has been focused on raising awareness and making sure people know there are other places to get healthcare support. We are continually sharing the NHS 111 online or phone system as the first alternative where the team can advise on the most appropriate treatment pathway and if appropriate, book you into a timeslot in advance in our Urgent Care Centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

High numbers of people in busy waiting rooms piles huge pressure on the team. The result is that colleagues work relentlessly to see people as quickly as possible. They miss breaks, rest periods and finishing on time to see their own families to ensure everyone is seen and supported as quickly as possible.

In addition, when we’re busy and teams are short staffed due to colleagues being off on leave or self-isolating or because they’re poorly themselves, other staff from other teams step in to cover. That leaves them short staffed too and as we are focused on reducing waiting lists for all our services, this leads to operations or other scheduled procedures being cancelled. This impacts on the quality of life of others and, at worst, can change their prognosis dramatically.

I talked at the beginning about taking breaks, reenergising for the challenges ahead and that, whilst we have hope, we’re not out of the Covid woods yet.

It remains my view that if we understand the connections, work together and think of each other – staff, patients, partners, families and carers – we’ll be able to return to normal and ensure we support everyone appropriately with their health care needs as soon as possible.

Take care,

Nicki Latham
Deputy Chief Executive

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