Published on: 19 November 2021

Whilst it remains a challenging time for everyone at East Lancashire Hospitals, I want to again encourage us to remember all the great things we are achieving each and every day, despite being under incredible and sustained pressure.

Firstly, in what has been a busy week, I want to acknowledge the outstanding work that was delivered during an intense 24 hour period, which began last Wednesday when more than three times the number of people came into our hospitals to be seen than is usual for this time of year.

You can imagine the strain this placed on colleagues who are consistently working their socks off and doing their best in very difficult circumstances indeed.

But I was beyond delighted and so, so proud to see everyone pull together to improve the situation for each other, our patients and their families quickly. This included not just every team in the Trust in both hospital and community services, but our partners and friends across Pennine Lancashire and the county as a whole.

What was achieved, together and in a very short timeframe, was honestly amazing. Within those 24 hours we had safely discharged 174 people, worked as a team to support those in A&E and, in particular, those with early pregnancy concerns to progress expediently to gynaecology for support. We called on our community colleagues who stepped up with aplomb. The Home Support Service team was instrumental in helping people access care safely without coming into hospital and pharmacists and therapists were effective in enabling timely discharges too.

Of course, these are just a few examples of the immense teamwork across all departments it takes to safely and effectively manage these demands on a day-to-day basis. But when the dial moves, it is assuring to see we’re able to still step up a gear and make a difference.

We will now learn from these changes and ensure the momentum and improvements we’ve made are part of our plan moving into what is clearly going to be a very difficult winter. This is a difficult message to convey as you can imagine how the sustained pressure has led to exhaustion, how people are running on empty and simply wondering how they can carry on.

For this reason we continue to focus on activities to reenergise staff and support morale wherever possible – and I’m delighted to say there continue to be lots of really uplifting things happening around the Trust.

One that stands out for me last week was the poignant and touching memorial service held in our Garden of Memories on the Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital site last Thursday for Armistice Day.

I was pleased that amongst the incredible pressure we were able to take some time to mark this important moment which is so very close to our hearts and values. All our hospitals have the Veteran Aware accreditation which means we strive to be an exemplar of the best care for veterans and their families, with a Veterans Champion Fiona Lamb in place and doing a great job easing access to services and additional support.

East Lancashire Hospitals also supports the health commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant, which is a promise by the nation to ensure that those who serve or, who have served in the UK armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly

I am fully and squarely behind all of these commitments and as we remember those who lost their lives during all wars, it is right we continue to prioritise the care of those who survived and need our support.

That said, the staff at the Trust are its biggest asset and it’s right we look after them too. I won’t ever step away from that commitment either.

It’s right we continue to prioritise and invest in a range of health and well being activities offering a very broad spectrum of support. It won’t surprise you to know one of the most popular things is to book a visit from our ever popular four-legged therapist Jasper and his dad (and our chaplain) David. We are about to welcome a second therapy dog because of just how much these visits help people during difficult and stressful days.

We do also provide occupational health support to those who need it and are conscious of ensuring that, amidst all of this, people take breaks and annual leave.

If you follow us on social media you’ll see lots of ways we’re trying to say thank you and celebrate our successes too – this might seem frivolous in the moment, but often these little things are what get us all though.

Do join in when you see a request to thank colleagues, join in on threads to recognise the safe, personal and effective care provided and share messages which include information about how local people can help us. This includes only attending A&E if you have an urgent or emergency issue, but also encouraging people to get a ‘flu jab, Covid vaccination and Covid booster as soon as they can.

We have recently enjoyed seeing messages from celebrity guests including Strictly stars and other well know faces. I can honestly say to those who have taken the time to do this that it is appreciated and really does make a difference and lift our spirits.

Lastly, we should continue to celebrate colleagues who are doing great things, even when we’re busy looking after others. There are many but I want to end by mentioning a couple:

  • I have to mention Sanish Thomas and Sinto Mulavarickal - two of our brilliant chefs who were crowned winners in the first ever National NHS Chef of the Year competition. This is incredible and testament not just to their culinary talent, but the extent of the knowledge they have to make sure we also meet the specific challenges of patient catering within the health service. Congratulations to them and the entire catering team – just brilliant.
  • Colleagues in the Pancreatic Cancer Rapid Diagnostic Service (RDS) also scooped a win at the Macmillan Professionals Excellence Awards, as recognition of their outstanding contribution to cancer services. The team has improved the coordination of services to provide a seamless experience – a huge well done and thank you to everyone in the team.
  • The antimicrobial stewardship team is encouraging colleagues to work together to prevent serious infections whilst reducing inappropriate antibiotic as part of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week. They will be making presentations to colleagues and awareness raising around the Trust generally. Please do support them!
  • And finally, we were delighted to have colleagues attend this year’s HSJ Awards, as we were shortlisted in two categories. Our Enhanced Approach to Covid-19, led by our Critical Care Team, was shortlisted in the Patient Safety Award category, and our BAME Network was shortlisted for the NHS Race Equality Award for their work Advancing Race Equality. Sadly, we did not win the awards, but just to be recognised these areas is a great achievement.

Thank you to everyone across the Trust who continues to ensure we’re providing safe, personal and effective care. It is recognised, it is appreciated and it is important to so many local people.

Don’t forget we’re always looking for great people to join us too – in clinical front lines roles but also in many corporate support functions too. If you want to join our ‘ELHT family’ and be part of something that is tough but amazing at the same time, please google ELHT jobs and get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

Take care,