Hello all,

Happy New Year! As we expected, the start of 2023 has been exceptionally busy for us and all service providers across Surrey and Sussex. While we knew it would be busy and made good preparations it has been even more challenging than expected, a result of high rates of COVID-19 and flu, high acuity of patients and an ongoing high number of patients who are awaiting care in the community. High demand is being felt across the whole of the NHS and social care. All of this has led to longer waits for patients to receive the care they need. The public can help us manage these periods of demand by ensuring they are seeking help from the most appropriate health services, and only attending A&E for serious accidents and emergencies.

Our ongoing priorities are to ensure swift handover of patients from our ambulance colleagues enabling them to respond as quickly as possible to patients in the community phoning 999, deliver safe and timely care for patients in our emergency department and to maintain access for those patients urgently requiring elective surgery, invasive procedures or diagnostics. Every single member of staff at SASH have contributed to make sure our patients receive the care they need. We will stay in critical incident until things have stabilised.

I know how tough this has been for our staff. I am grateful for all their efforts and in awe of their collective response to maintain patient care in such challenging circumstances. One of our patients who was in ED in the last few days has written into to say: “I just wanted to thank you so very much for the care I had today, everyone was so kind, and the care was exemplary, I can see you were so busy and expected a long wait but went in at 2.00 and was out by 4.30. The doctor in A&E was incredible his care was second to none, the X-ray dept, the nurse that took me to the toilet alone when I couldn’t weight bare was so lovely.”

On Thursday, I witnessed members across several teams going above and beyond to ensure that a patient who had unfortunately had to been admitted as an emergency could have access to a large screen to attend her husband’s funeral virtually. Thank you particularly to Carl Sedge, ED Matron for your persistence in making this happen.

I’m conscious that this pressure is felt by all of our teams across the organisation not just those working in the clinical area with colleagues from all areas coming together to help. This situation will end but, in the meantime, let’s keep working together and supporting each other.

On a positive note, this week the work to create two new permanent wards began which unfortunately requires closure of the east staff car park. I know this is causing some disruption, but it will be worth it when the work is complete. Not only will we have new wards but more parking spaces. In fact, I want to take this opportunity to give a shout out to our amazing car parking team who have been facilitating the work, we couldn’t see this enormous piece of work through without you. Thank you to you all for your understanding and patience as the work is being carried out.

Today we say goodbye to Pauline Harrison, senior cashier who retires this afternoon. Pauline has worked at SASH since April 2007. During her 15 years she has been involved in many projects such as going paper light. Thank you, Pauline, for doing a fantastic job and dealing brilliantly with staff and patients every day.

Finally, after 11 years at SASH, we say a sad farewell to Jamie Moore, chief nurse for surgery next week. Jamie’s leadership during the height of COVID-19 was instrumental, and I want to say a big thank you for everything he has driven and achieved in the pursuit of quality care. Jamie, we wish you all the best in your new role as divisional director of nursing and deputy chief nurse at Medway NHS Foundation Trust. 

Best wishes

Angela Stevenson
Chief executive