We are living in the most extraordinary of times.
In my 20-plus years working in the medical profession, I have never experienced anything like this. Neither have my colleagues. The scale of the challenge facing all of us in this country is unprecedented.
We have not yet seen the peak of this virus. Sadly, the number of deaths in our two hospitals has reached double figures. With the scale of this pandemic worldwide, it is easy to get caught up in the statistics. But none of these cases is a number. Each one is a tragic loss of life, devastating to their loved ones.
Covid-19 – coronavirus – does not discriminate. It has claimed young and old lives alike and that’s why it is imperative that we all play our part in reducing the spread as far as possible.
The trust, and the wider health and social care family, is preparing as much as we can but we need the public to help. Help by social distancing and by following Government advice. Help to ‘flatten the curve’ and reduce the number of people who will end up in hospital and the number of people who will die. By doing your bit you will help to save lives.
It is important to say that, while sadly patients have died, we have also discharged patients who have recovered from this virus.
Myself and Louise Barnett, our chief executive, spent some time with teams in clinical areas on Sunday. It was impressive to see how advanced some of their preparations were and some of the innovative ways they had overcome boundaries. Our teams at SaTH are pulling together magnificently and I want to publicly thank them for all they are doing. Some people are putting in very long hours, but we are looking at ways to resolve this, as we know there is a long way to go yet, before this is over.
Some non-clinical staff will be re-trained and redeployed to other roles. That’s because, as well as seeing more patients with the virus, it is also likely to have an impact on our staffing levels. By mid-April we hope to have 300 members of staff trained and redeployed to support our teams.
A lot of focus in the media has been on personal protective equipment – PPE. While there have been shortages across the UK, I’m pleased to say we have not run out of anything that we need and, this week, took delivery of thousands more masks.
I want to also thank our patients and their loved ones. We have taken difficult decisions over visiting and we have ceased visiting for all but a handful of circumstances, such as mums in labour and patients at the end of their lives. We know this is not easy. The understanding we have had from members of the public has been so heartening. It is clear that the vast majority of people understand why we have done this.
Finally, I want to thank the people of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales for their kindness and generosity at this time. We have been inundated with well-wishes – cards, comments on social media – and they really do help lift our morale. The rainbows which are being put up in windows across the area certainly bring a smile to the faces and the minute’s applause brought a lump to the throat.
We have also had so many generous donations, especially of food. They say an army marches on its stomach and the donations we have received will keep us on the road for some time.
Stay safe. Stay at home.