Covid-19 continues to impact on our daily lives and our neighbours in Wales will, from Friday, enter a two-week ‘fire break’ lockdown to help combat a rise in cases.
The restrictions, which will last until November 9, aim to reduce the spread of coronavirus and prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed.
It is a stark reminder this virus is not going away.
In our hospitals, we are starting to see an increase in the number of Covid-19 positive patients that we are caring for – including a small number in our ITUs.
So it is absolutely vital we continue to look after each other by washing our hands regularly, wearing a face covering and keeping two metres apart as we go about our daily lives.
The ways in which patients with Covid-19 are treated and cared for in hospital are complex.
As well as respiratory teams and those working in our intensive care and high dependency units, there are, among many others, physiotherapists, staff in radiology, porters, pharmacy, community teams, dietitians and office-based staff, all of whom are working together to tackle this virus.
I want to publicly acknowledge and thank my colleagues for their hard work and dedication.
'We have felt the support of the public every day'
Although we no longer ‘clap for our carers’ each week, we have felt the support of the public every day during this pandemic and I know the teams who care, directly or indirectly, for our patients take strength from this and encouragement they are valued.
I would also like to thank everyone who has raised money for our hospitals – whether it be through our own SaTH Charity, our League of Friends or NHS Charities Together, wonderfully supported by Sir Captain Tom Moore and his walk for the NHS. The money raised has gone a huge way to support colleagues and patients throughout the pandemic.
Examples of what the money has been spent on include developing a counselling service for staff, patients and their families who have been affected by Covid-19; the introduction of additional outdoor green spaces at our hospitals for staff to take breaks; and the purchase of two-way radios so colleagues wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can communicate effectively.
The winter period is forecast to see a rise in urgent care demand, with associated capacity challenges across both sites for emergency care and the potential impact on scheduled care.
With this in mind we are continuing to prepare our hospitals and this includes vaccinating our staff against flu – so far nearly 2,000 colleagues have had their jabs, myself included, and this is being done via appointment to ensure social distancing.
'Get the vaccination'
I would encourage everyone who is invited to have their flu jab to get the vaccination.
Work is also continuing to restore services paused at the beginning of the pandemic, and we are putting things in place to allow us to see more patients who may have had their appointments delayed. This week, we have seen the arrival of a mobile CT scanner at Princess Royal Hospital which will allow us to start scanning routine patients on our waiting lists.
Finally, please continue to do your part and stay safe by following local restrictions, washing your hands and wearing a mask.
You have been responsive to and responsible with the restrictions imposed upon us so far and now, more than ever, it is vital that we remain vigilant to protect ourselves and each other.