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Heroic efforts of NHS staff recognised at public board meeting

Thursday, 25 November, 2021
Heroic efforts of NHS staff recognised at public board meeting

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has paid tribute to staff for their unwavering dedication and effort during what has been an exceptionally busy time in the NHS.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has paid tribute to staff for their unwavering dedication and effort during what has been an exceptionally busy time in the NHS.

The trust chair, Alan Richardson, began the trust public board meeting by recognising how difficult and challenging things have been over the last year and a half and by thanking staff.

Board members heard from CEO, Sir James Mackey, who advised that although the trust’s performance is among the best in the country, it is recognised that it is not where it wants to be and that the next few months will be a significant challenge.

Despite the strain on local services patient experience remains positive with 66% of inpatients, 72% of outpatients and 78% of patients receiving day case care all rating their experience with the trust as excellent.

Alan Richardson, Northumbria Healthcare chair, said: “I want to pay sincere tribute to our amazing staff who continue to work so hard while also having to personally deal with the impact of Covid-19. We know that staff are tired and it is testament to everyone working at Northumbria that they keep going and continue to provide the best patient care they can, despite this and the growing pressure on the NHS. I would like to offer every single member of staff deepest thanks on behalf of the board.”

The board heard about the trust winter plans which will continue to adapt to the challenges faced.

Sir James Mackey, Northumbria Healthcare CEO, said: “We are under no illusion that things are going to be very challenging over the next few winter months. Some challenges include seeing a high number of patients with respiratory conditions, staff absence and managing the number of beds we have available.

“We want to assure patients that everything is being done to ensure that we continue to provide the quality of care that our patients deserve and also, crucially, to ensuring our staff have the support they need. We are also committed to ensuring we continue to keep as much planned (elective) activity going as we can. We have done more than 21,000 operations and procedures over the last year and a half. I am incredibly proud to work with a team that is so passionate about providing excellent and compassionate patient care and experience, day in day out.

“Demand for our services, and for healthcare services across the region, is the highest it has been and a plea from me is that people choose the service that is most appropriate for their health care need. Our A&E team are currently seeing around 2,000 patients a week and

we need to ensure they can provide timely care for our sickest patients. We are also fortunate that health care organisations across the north east and north Cumbria do work collaboratively and will continue to support each other wherever possible.”

In his annual report, Dr David Tate, director of infection prevention and control, outlined some of the challenges of the past 12 months and explained how this has been a period like never before in the NHS.

He said: “Much of the trust’s response to Covid-19 wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of the microbiology laboratory staff. This dedicated group of individuals has taken on Covid-19 PCR testing 24/7 seven days a week from a position of zero tests to routinely processing between 800-1000 tests per day at the peak of the pandemic. We have opened a new lab at Cramlington for the rapid turnaround of Covid-19 samples with our turn-around times being frequently among the best in the region. This couldn’t have been possible without the flexibility and willingness to adopt new technologies that this group of amazing NHS staff have embraced”.

The board heard how a huge amount of work and innovation has taken place alongside the routine work that the infection prevention and control team does including:

  • Supporting care homes with infection prevention control advice, guidance and training
  • Fit testing thousands of staff for PPE to ensure it provides required protection
  • Setting up the Covid-19 staff phone line, which at the peaks of the pandemic was taking over a 100 calls per day
  • The introduction of UV light technology to enable enhanced cleaning of contaminated patient rooms and toilets
  • Managing the flow of staff and patients on trust sites, the provision of required PPE and the installation of hand washing basins at the entrances and exits to all hospitals raised the profile of the simplest but most effective measure in infection prevention and control – washing your hands.

Finally, the board also heard how the vaccination campaign has moved into a new phase with the Covid-19 booster jab being given to staff at the same time as the flu inoculation, where possible, as part of a new vaccination model. The trust plans to vaccinate all their own staff, a further 6,000 care staff from local authorities and long stay patients or those who have participated in trials. Currently 96% of trust staff have had their second Covid-19 jab and 80% have had their Covid-19 booster. Currently 61% of staff have had their flu vaccination.