We are very aware of the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on everyone from our patients and staff to friends and families.

So today I am pleased to say that we have launched our new campaign, ‘Thinking of you’, allowing people to send letters and images online to our patients, making it easier to communicate with their loved ones in our hospitals. These letters will be printed and delivered to our patients by our PALS team every day from Monday to Friday. We also have a phone line for people to share their messages on 01708 503 604 between 10am and 2pm, Monday to Friday. Please do inform people in your networks of this campaign to help get more messages through to our patients.

Sadly we now have a total of 135 patients to date who have died, who tested positive for Covid-19. As I wrote last week, there was a time delay between when someone died and when test results were returned from the lab. This process should be speedier now that we have testing on-site. We have also discharged 639 patients who were either confirmed or suspected to have Covid-19; we are very pleased they have recovered and been able to return home.

We are also pleased that we have now been able to test 806 members of our staff and people in their households since 2 April. This means that more of our staff can return to work to care for our patients.

One of our key priorities is to discharge patients quicker from our hospitals, that are otherwise medically fit. We have been working very closely with our partners, the CCG, NELFT and our local authorities, and now have a hospital discharge service in place.

Thank you to everyone who has worked at pace to make a number of beds available in the community for patients who can be discharged from acute hospital care, but still require ongoing care. This is an example of how we as a Trust together with our healthcare system partners have been able to deliver transformational change at breakneck speed. As a Trust we have also more than quadrupled our intensive care capacity; reformed our delivery of outpatient services, from a system that was very traditional and increasingly out-dated; and changed the way we all work together.

Amidst all this, words cannot express how proud I am of how our staff are continuing to rise to the challenge of dealing with the pandemic, and their stories are being picked up around the world; one of our senior respiratory and critical care physiotherapists Natasha Lade, appeared on Australia’s breakfast programme, The Today Show on Saturday. Her story can be viewed on Twitter here.

We recently launched a recruitment campaign asking people to temporarily help us care for patients with Covid-19. Kate Baker successfully applied to be a healthcare assistant, and was inspired to take on the role by the care she received as a patient at Queen’s Hospital in 2016, when she was treated with a low grade brain tumour.

Kate volunteers at our hospitals as a patient partner, a role which aims to improve our services by giving the patient perspective. To help to keep everyone safe, volunteering at our hospitals has been stood down for the time being, so Kate wanted to take on a temporary staff role to continue to help.

In total we’ve already offered roles to 48 healthcare assistants, two nurses and 13 doctors.

We are also immensely grateful to the support and generous offers flooding in from our local communities from fundraising for supplies, to food supplies, to giving donations that will provide a much needed boost to our staff. An artist called Martin Bruckner, has donated artwork depicting lots of our emergency services roles and messages of thanks from our communities. These pieces of artwork will be displayed in staff wellbeing spaces we have created for our frontline staff to provide them with much needed respite during their breaks.

Thank you to everyone for your ongoing generosity and support at this critical time.

Please keep sharing these key updates within your networks, and remind people who think they have symptoms to read the information on the NHS 111 website.

There is also the latest advice and guidance on the NHS and Public Health England websites.

Thank you for your continued support and I hope you and your families stay well.

Tony Chambers
Chief Executive

Thank you to Councillor Gillian Ford for providing this update