The images and news reports coming from India this week have, I am sure, touched and terrified us all.
The heart breaking and utterly devastating wave of Covid that has hit the continent has left so many, many people bereaved and colleagues in the healthcare system completely overwhelmed, exhausted and bereft of hope.
We know what that feels like in East Lancashire Hospitals and sadly in many of our communities where the virus has taken thousands of people from families who loved them.
As an area and an organisation, we have been battered by Covid and the memories continue to haunt many people, including those that are recovering and especially our wonderful, wonderful staff.
I look at the images on the news from India and feel a sense of deep sadness and empathy for the country and the people facing the terrible situation that has unfolded there.
It is an important reminder that whilst a combination of collective responsibility to follow restrictions within communities and the most monumental vaccination programme ever seen in the UK has delivered reducing infection rates – this horrific virus really is never far away.
Here at the Trust we will be considering what we can do to help and support. This is on multiple fronts which are also a priority regionally and nationally across NHS organisations too.
One suggestion is that we could partner with Indian hospitals to provide support and resources as well as clinical advice and support. With technology this no longer necessarily means flying overseas, but it’s a simple truth that we have great experience in treating Covid and we could share it easily.
I am proud to say that whilst we have lost many people, we have sent far more home to recover with their families and have learned an incredible amount in the process. If we can help save lives, then we always will.
For years we have actively recruited colleagues from overseas including from India. We have doctors, nurses and people in many wider roles across the Trust who are from India, have family in India or connections through heritage to India.
Now is the opportunity to give something back whilst also ensuring those people who are suffering in our own organisation are properly supported through comprehensive Employee Assistance Programmes, a fantastic occupational health team, Bereavement Care and our utterly inspiring Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care team.
Externally, of course there is support available too and if you are affected by the terrible scenes in India, please seek help. Don’t suffer when there are many people around to help and support you through this incredibly difficult time.
Lastly, whilst the scenes in India are geographically thousands of miles away, I know they will stir very painful memories of difficult times for many people at the Trust. We were overwhelmed and struggling, no doubt, but we have made the most tremendous progress.
There have been days in the past week or two where we have had no Covid patients in our critical care wards which is an incredible achievement.
Please, continue to do everything you can. That means following the restrictions in place and the relaxation of them over time. Most importantly, when you can get a vaccine you must do so and help to protect yourself, your family and most of all the county from reversing the most amazing progress that has been made.
Whilst we send our love and energy to colleagues in India, we do not want to return to high infection and admission rates or losing people we love to this terrible disease.
Stay safe and take care. If you need help, ask.