Well, what a week it’s been.
I can’t remember a run-up to Christmas quite like this in my whole time in the NHS. As we approach the weekend, I am filled with pride at how our One Team has responded.
We’ve been relentlessly busy across health and care in recent days and weeks – so much so that Surrey Heartlands system declared a critical incident earlier this week. Lots of the people we’re seeing are very sick so need to be looked after in hospital. We’ve got rapidly rising flu rates and COVID is still prevalent - thank you for all of the efforts to make sure our infection prevention and control practices are as robust as possible. Added into this mix of pressures was the ambulance service strikes on Wednesday. We worked really hard to maximise flow through the hospital to make sure ambulances could hand over patients to us quickly and get back out on the road to their next patient.
To do this, I saw great team work and real energy across our services. Experts from different specialties supported the emergency department brilliantly, we had our rapid assessment area working really well, with great support from GPs at the front of the emergency department too. Colleagues worked really hard to book transport early for patients leaving us, non-clinical staff helped out with making sure patients could be moved swiftly to wards and different executives were part of every step of the process. I know this took a lot of effort with people working in different areas and rescheduling other important meetings to support their colleagues.
This is all so important because the reason we all come to work is to make sure that whatever happens, we are there to treat the patients who need us. Our families, friends and loved-ones rely on services just like ours, so we take pride in making sure that we rise to the challenges and get people the care they need. In the face of such high demand in recent weeks this has felt really difficult and there’s certainly a long way to go, but the ways in which we all pulled together this week gives me great hope for the rest of winter and beyond.
On a lighter note, my executive colleagues and I had the pleasure of visiting many departments this week to judge their Christmas decorations, particularly looking for home made or sustainable efforts. I loved seeing the welcome for young patients approaching Outwood Ward – fantastic! Our stores team made sure that even behind the scenes in our hospital was feeling festive – a brilliant effort! It was really difficult, but we have chosen three winners, one from Horsham, one from Crawley and one from East Surrey. For our first winner, Sue Jenkins was particularly impressed with the phlebotomy team at Horsham Hospital’s home-made reindeer decorations on their tree. Our second winner was Concorde Ward at Crawley – Anouska Adamson-Parks loved the huge efforts to make the whole environment feel special. Our final winner is pre-assessment at East Surrey Hospital – Colin Pink was wowed by the efforts to produce home-made decorations to hang. What a creative One Team we have! We hope you smile at the small prizes on their way to you!
Many thanks to our chaplaincy team for organising this week’s carol concert. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there, but have heard rave-reviews for SASH choir, Penny Firshman’s solo and a number of beautiful readings. I even missed our chairman Richard Shaw showing off his eloquence in reciting John Betjeman!
Today is a sad day because our head of communications Jamie Whitburn is leaving us, moving onto a new role and organisation. He will be hugely missed both by me and by everyone that has been lucky enough to have worked with him. We wish him all the very best for the future.
So, a very big thank you for this week. It’s really important we keep up the momentum and team work – when times are tough it’s the team work that pulls us through. It’s equally important that we look after ourselves and rest. So while you’re working this festive period, please keep up the great work, and during your down time please rest, relax and enjoy yourself. For those celebrating, have a wonderful Christmas.