In the wake of increased pressures, including large numbers of flu cases, teams working in hospitals and in the community across Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have been heralded for pulling together to look after patients.
Improvements put in place following last winter – when high attendances were compounded by high numbers of norovirus and flu – have made significant differences but it has been the willingness of staff to go above and beyond that has had the greatest impact.
Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Every winter presents its own challenges and this year is no different.
“We’ve taken what we learnt last year – often on the back of direct feedback from frontline staff – and made some significant changes.
“Although not all are likely to be visible to the general public, they are all important and are all making a very real difference.
“I’m incredibly proud to say that every single member of our staff has played their part, and then some. In many cases adapting to new ways of working and going above and beyond to provide the highest standard of (integrated) care to our patients.
“To them, I would like to say thank you. Your continued dedication, professionalism and efforts are inspiring.”
One of the most visible measures that the trust took this year was to – pre-emptively – impose partial visitor restrictions.
This was to ensure that total bans (as in winter 2017/18) could be avoided; as far as possible. A step which so far is proving to be highly effective.
Sir James added: “While there is no doubt these measures have had a huge impact, they would not have worked without our staff planning and preparing for them and, crucially, seeing them through in testing times.
“We know that it’s not easy for our patients or their families either and I’d like to place on record how grateful we are for their on-going support – it is deeply appreciated.”
“We are under no illusions that winter might have a trick or two left for us – the Beast from the East at the end of February last year was a stark reminder of that.
“However, the hard work of our staff so far this winter will stand us in good stead, whatever Mother Nature throws our way.”