Published on: 11 September 2020

Hello everyone, welcome to my blog this week.

I need to start with a very earnest plea to everyone who is reading this - wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering or mask as directed (and where necessary, fully appropriate PPE) and keep two metres away from people. The COVID infection rate is increasing and it is imperative that people follow the guidance.  The implications of COVID, even it doesn't result in hospitalisation or death, can be very serious and long lasting, especially for our most vulnerable members of society. So please, stick to the rules to protect yourself, your families and friends, and the NHS.

We know that many of our staff have been deeply affected by their experiences during COVID and I want them all to know that as well as being incredibly grateful to, and inspired by them, we care greatly for their health and wellbeing.  The profound (and ongoing) impact on staff was described poignantly by hospital chaplain David Anderson at our public, virtual Trust Board meeting on Wednesday. He attended with therapy dog Jasper - who is always welcome, wherever he goes - to give an account of his work supporting staff as well as patients and families.  I am glad that they will both be attending our AGM next week to share their story wider. Everyone is welcome to attend the AGM - it is taking place online and we would all love to see many of our patients, supporters, stakeholders and partners there. More information and details of how to join are here.

This week has included World Suicide Prevention Day. It is always devastating when someone takes their own life so anything we can do to help raise awareness of services available and reach out to people at risk, we should do.  Remember, it's ok not to be ok, but simply talking through issues can sometimes help. Anyone can take the Zero Suicide Alliance online training to learn more about mental health, and perhaps be better equipped to listen to someone who may be contemplating ending their life, and direct them to services that can help. You can find out more here. Here in Lancashire and South Cumbria, a new scheme has been launched to identify people who have been trained to signpost to services with an 'Orange Button'. This means someone who may be contemplating suicide, or their carers/friends can 'push the button' and ask for help. 

This year's staff flu vaccination programme starts very soon and I'd urge all staff to get the jab. We have a fantastic track record at ELHT of successfully vaccinating staff - nearly 95% last year - and this year I'd like to see at least 98% of protected against flu.  Now, more than ever, it's vital that you are an inFLUencer - get the vaccination, and encourage others to do so.

I'll end this week, as on many occasions before, with genuine and heartfelt thanks to all our staff for everything they do.  We have had an incredibly difficult six months, and we have an even more difficult six months ahead as we prepare for winter, continue to restore our services to near normal levels and plan for a possible second wave of Covid. What you do is amazing and me, your colleagues and your community are very grateful.

Here's hoping for a quiet weekend! Best wishes everyone. Until next time.....