Coronavirus - keeping in touch with our staff during these uncertain times

A message from our Chair and Chief Executive

It’s a week since we put together our first note to everyone about Coronavirus, and it seems like a lifetime! We are all reeling from the impact the crisis is having on not only our working practices, but our daily lives. In many ways we did not anticipate even a few short weeks ago.

As you know, our specific actions to address the impact of the virus and to reduce the risk to staff and service users is being led by Joanna Forster Adams and Cathy Woffendin and their teams. This work is relentless and requires real focus, tenacity and commitment. We want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank-you to all those involved in this vital work.

Restrictions on daily life are now tighter than any of us can recall, and the messages about social distancing, self-isolation, protecting the vulnerable and reducing demand on health and care services are repeated constantly. Unless our work requires us to be there in person, if we can we should work from home, and stay at home to prevent spread of the virus and protect each other.

These are very worrying times for us all and it is so important that we recognise that in the midst of all this, we are human, and need to be kind to ourselves and each other. The psychological impact of such fundamental changes to how we live and interact with family, friends and colleagues are significant and will continue to be felt for a long time.

We want you to know that as your employer, we truly appreciate all you do for our service users, their families, our partners, and for each other. We want to support you as much as we can to enable our services to be safe, but also be flexible enough to be sustainable, and keep going during these challenging days.

Again and again we see great leadership, working to support staff and service users with compassion and empathy. We are all working this situation out and none of us has an easy solution to fix this crisis. Even though we won’t be able to visit services and speak with you directly as we would want to just now, we are keeping a close eye on all the activity across the Trust and trying to unblock problems as they arise. One example is resolving the problems accessing supplies and PPE equipment.

Sometimes it’s good to hold on to familiar routines and make sure some things will carry on as ‘normal’. One of those is the Board which will have its March meeting this Thursday. It will be a dial-in meeting where we will continue to offer leadership and guidance, make decisions and review our performance. We just won’t be in the same room. The board papers will be available as usual and can be accessed via our website.

It’s clear that the public recognise and really value the work of staff across the NHS and care services, as this has been brought into sharp focus by the crisis. Despite the fact that we were already aware of how great the staff in our Trust are, these last few weeks have reinforced that view hundreds of times. We are incredibly proud of all our staff, volunteers, carers and governors and know you will continue to provide amazing care and support to our service users and their families now and in the coming pressured weeks.

Dr Sara Munro and Dr Sue Proctor