Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust board members thanked staff at a public board meeting last week, recognising how difficult and challenging things have been over the last 18 months.
Trust chair Alan Richardson was keen to thank staff, saying: “I want to pay sincere tribute to our amazing staff who continue to work so hard while also having to personally deal with the impact of Covid-19.
"We know that staff are tired and it is testament to everyone working at Northumbria that they keep going and continue to provide the best patient care they can, despite this and the growing pressure on the NHS.
"I would like to offer every single member of staff deepest thanks on behalf of the board.”
The Trust’s CEO, Sir James Mackey, also told members that although the trust’s performance is among the best in the country, it is recognised that it is not where it wants to be and that the next few months will be a significant challenge.
He also gave an update on the trust’s winter plans which will continue to adapt to the challenges faced.
Mr Mackey said: “We are under no illusion that things are going to be very challenging over the next few winter months.
"Some challenges include seeing a high number of patients with respiratory conditions, staff absence and managing the number of beds we have available.
“We want to assure patients that everything is being done to ensure that we continue to provide the quality of care that our patients deserve and also, crucially, to ensuring our staff have the support they need.
"We are also committed to ensuring we continue to keep as much planned (elective) activity going as we can.
"We have done more than 21,000 operations and procedures over the last year and a half.
“Demand for our services, and for healthcare services across the region, is the highest it has been and a plea from me is that people choose the service that is most appropriate for their health care need.
"Our A&E team are currently seeing around 2,000 patients a week and we need to ensure they can provide timely care for our sickest patients.
"We are also fortunate that health care organisations across the north east and north Cumbria do work collaboratively and will continue to support each other wherever possible.”
Dr David Tate, director of infection prevention and control, outlined some of the challenges of the past 12 months and explained how this has been a period like never before in the NHS.
The board also heard how the vaccination campaign has moved into a new phase with the Covid-19 booster jab being given to staff at the same time as the flu inoculation, where possible, as part of a new vaccination model.
The trust plans to vaccinate all their own staff, a further 6,000 care staff from local authorities and long stay patients or those who have participated in trials.
Currently 96 per cent of trust staff have had their second Covid-19 jab and 80 per cent have had their Covid-19 booster while 61 per cent of staff have had their flu vaccination.