I’m back at work today following a terrible bout of COVID. It’s been a real reminder of how disabling the virus can be and how long it can take to recover. It’s also brought home to me the importance of what we all do to look after people with COVID. It can be very debilitating so please remember that the work you’re doing is hugely valued by our patients and their loved ones. It’s also very important to take enough time to recover if you get it. It’s vital for your wellbeing that you don’t feel pressure to come back to work before you’re able.
I’m grateful to Paul Simpson for covering for me while I was off; he’s told me what a brilliant job everyone has been doing. I want to thank each and every one of you for the way in which you kept services going through the hottest weather on record. We were proactive and meticulous in our planning and managed to keep disruption to a minimum. We made some changes to appointments where absolutely necessary, but largely kept the show on the road - I don’t underestimate how challenging that was. As an illustration of this, our estates team were constantly checking our systems and recorded temperatures of 52.3°C, 46.5°C and 45.2°C in three of the areas they were monitoring to maintain our services (our boiler house and chiller plant areas). Teams across the Trust deserve a great deal of praise – it was great to see the Surrey Mirror include a photo of our catering team, for example, who worked incredibly hard in hot kitchens to keep patients and staff fed and watered.
We were very sad to share the news today that Nichola (Nicky) Jefferies, one of our radiology booking coordinators, died in the early hours of Tuesday, following a long period of illness. Nicky was a beloved member of our radiology admin and booking team, known for her big smile, love for ‘good’ quality coffee and wicked sense of humour. Nicky provided the team with friendship and laughs which made her incredibly loved and respected by her team. Nicky will always be remembered for being kind and caring and also for the compassion and understanding she showed to both patients and colleagues. We’ll miss her enormously.
Our emergency department again saw high numbers of patients needing care this week, but they managed to prioritise responding to a patient’s very special request. On Wednesday, the team heard that a patient receiving palliative care wanted to get married. Recognising the importance of providing holistic care in these extremely difficult circumstances, they worked with the palliative care, chaplaincy, catering and transport teams on the arrangements and the wedding was held in the department on the very same day. This kind of response is exactly what we are here for, so an enormous thank you to the teams involved and congratulations to the couple.
Today we are marking a very special anniversary for one of our colleagues. Hilda Williams (or ‘H’ as she is affectionately known) has worked for the NHS for 50 years today. She is currently registration authority coordinator in our workforce department, but has held many different roles in her time with us. This is extraordinary dedication and H is a shining example of someone who keeps our organisation going, enabling us to provide care to our community for the last 50 years. You can read more about H’s story here.
We’re moving ever-closer to our eSASH go-live in September, when we will start using our new electronic patient record. We’re visiting wards regularly to give demos of how it will work, and we also showed the system to some of our non-executive directors yesterday. As part of our preparations we are upgrading our wi-fi and I am delighted that we went live with wi-fi in Horsham Hospital outpatients department this week. This is a big step forward for the department. It will enable us to make the most of eSASH and I’m sure our patients will value it too. Next up – our departments at Crawley Hospital!
It was great to have Stephen Lightfoot and Adam Doyle, the chair and chief executive of NHS Sussex with us yesterday at our Board seminar. They gave an excellent presentation on the developing strategy in Sussex which enabled us to have a really productive discussion about the role we’ll play. It left us all excited about how we will work together to reduce health inequalities and ensure clinicians from all organisations in the partnership play a leading role in improving outcomes.
Many congratulations to Dr Laura O’Regan, chief nurse information officer, on receiving her PhD from Royal Holloway University of London. She completed her doctorate last year but, due to COVID, the ceremony was held just last week. Laura focused on the reasons for low accrual to cancer clinical trials from an interprofessional perspective and I know this has taken years of hard work, so I’m sure you will join me in congratulating her.
This week saw the start of South Asian Heritage Month. Our cultural inclusion champions staff network has put together a brilliant publication, setting out what the month is all about. My favourite part is the case studies from our colleagues who describe what the month means to them. We’re posting the case studies on our website throughout the month, and look out for the special menus in Three Arches Restaurant.
Looking ahead to next week we are holding a SASH+ rapid process improvement workshop (RPIW) focussed on the triage process in the emergency department. These events are such a great opportunity to give the people who know their area best the time and support to test ideas for improvement that they want to see. Sadly I won’t be there for the conclusion of the week as I’m on annual leave, but I look forward to hearing how it’s gone. Paul Simpson will be deputising for me and will keep you informed through the next two weekly updates while I am off.