We Are EEAST Briefing 21st January 2021

WeAreEEAST Briefing, Thursday 21st January with Nicola Scrivings, Trust Chair and acting CEO Dr Tom Davis.

Good afternoon everybody, my name is Nicola Scrivings, I’m Chair of the Trust. Thank you very much for joining us this afternoon for the latest in our series of briefings, and opportunity for you to ask questions of the Exec, myself, and the board. Also on the call today is Tom Davis, who will be able to answer some more specific questions, but he’ll also be covering topics such as vaccination, the culture program, the pandemic, and he’ll pick up after I’ve spent a few minutes just talking about things that are front of my mind and perhaps yours as well.

I wanted to open with a few words about Dorothy leaving the Trust. There was an announcement yesterday which I’m sure those on the call will have already read. I want to say a few words about Dorothy leaving, she joined in, I think, November 2018, before I joined a year later. And she joined a Trust that had a huge amount to achieve coming out the back end of the previous year with a very difficult Winter performance, and I know from peoples records and stories and the narrative that they have told me is that Dorothy brought a huge amount of energy, a huge amount of purposeful drive and focus to the Trust, and particularly around things such as engaging with others, being very visible throughout the Trust, talking to others about what she wanted to achieve and what ambition she had for the Trust. Certainly, when I joined over a year ago, we went quite quickly into the pandemic in March, as you know.

Dorothy led from the front during the pandemic and created a really focused response to some very difficult challenges. And all the groundwork and expertise that she brought to the leadership team meant that we’re now able to also deliver against the third wave of the pandemic in very difficult times, in fact in many ways much more difficult than the first time. And that’s because of the excellent planning and the excellent teamwork that’s in plan.

So, it is with great sadness that due to ill health we announced yesterday that Dorothy took the decision to step down, but we fully recognise her decision to do that. But I did want to acknowledge that she leaves the Trust in a much, much better place than when she started. We are in a situation now that we are very much in control in a very difficult operational situation. We don’t have any vacancies, so we know that we have the right resource and the right people be able to deliver excellent patient care. We’ve had a huge amount of investment in our fleet and our estate, and our digital program is really going forwards with leaps and bounds, and we really are achieving all of our key patient goals, and this is such a strong performance over where we were two or three years ago.

I know that she made many friends during her time here, and I know that came about from her own visibility being out and about in the Trust and just meeting and talking to people. Many of you have sent notes to me and to others to pass back to Dorothy, and we will make sure that they go back to her.

But we now need to look forward and acknowledge all the work Dorothy has done in the past. Tom is also doing an excellent job, and you’ll know that Tom Davis is leading the Trust in as Chief Executive at the moment whilst we now recruit to fill the role. But that will take some time, and we have a lot to do in the next few months in terms of managing current performance and the pandemic. And I know that the team is very, very focused upon using Dorothy’s legacy to make sure that we carry on giving the absolute best to our patients, so thank you for that.

I did also want to say thank you to you all because these are really testing times. We know that it is much harder this time than it was in the first wave, but we are in a very strong position, and Tom will talk shortly about the pandemic response and also about the changes that we’re making through the culture program at the same time as also doing the vaccination program, so there is a lot on our plate. So, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to say thank you to all of you for everything you are doing to look after our patients in really difficult times.

But I did also just want to make a point of asking you all to carry on looking after yourselves. During these really difficult times we sometimes forget to be kind to ourselves and make sure that we have time for ourselves and make sure that our wellbeing is at the top of the agenda, and to talk to others about that. And also, to look out for our colleagues, to make sure that we’re kind to our colleagues and they’re being kind to themselves and each other. Because when we’re in very stressful times we need to remember that keeping ourselves well is the best way of keeping our families and our colleagues and our friends well as well, so I would ask you to do that. But thank you very much for everything you have been doing and all the focus you have on patient support and patient safety.

So, on that, I’ll pass over to Tom to give a bit more detail around some of the things that I mentioned earlier, and perhaps Tom if you could just pick up about how people can ask questions, you’ll know the details better than me, thank you very much.

Thank you Nicola, and good afternoon everyone, my names Tom Davis, I’m the Acting Chief Executive, and it is a great pleasure again to be speaking to you on one of these Exec Q&A sessions. As Nicola has said, we do want to answer any questions that you have, and these can be done through the question box on this system. Or if you need to ask a question at any time, either during these sessions or outside, then the OCE.EEAST email is monitored regularly by my team and we respond as quickly as we can.

I think just on a personal note I just wanted to personally thank Dorothy for the leadership that she gave the organisation in the time that she was with us. I was very privileged to work on a daily basis very closely with Dorothy, and I can absolutely with confidence say that the reason the organisation has continued to perform so soundly during these very challenging times of the pandemic, especially in the last six weeks. It is testament to Dorothy’s leadership and the work she did through the teams around her to make significant improvements to how this organisation prepares itself and responds to the challenges within the system. I, again, would like to wish Dorothy a speedy recovery and thank her for all the support she has given me personally, but also I know my Exec Director colleagues and the wider teams will also want me to share that message.

So, picking up on some of the other key areas of the organisations work at the moment, I think one of the biggest topics nationally but also in any healthcare organisation at the moment, is Covid vaccination. I’m really pleased to say that over 50% of our staff and volunteers have already had access to the first vaccination, and we are on track to have enough vaccinations and appointment times to complete the entire vaccination of staff and volunteers by the end of January. What’s really important please is that you use all available resources for both booking in and having a vaccination. There are internal clinics, but there are also clinics that we have access to within the system, so at the acute Trusts and in certain areas through the mass vaccination sites, and the Primary Care network sites. All the details for booking in are on Need to Know, and like I say 50% is a fantastic achievement within a short period of time, but the ambition is to have vaccinated or offered a vaccine to everyone to chooses to have it, before the end of January.

I think it’s very important both from a personal perspective and the health and wellbeing of our communities, our families and our patients, that we strongly consider as health care professionals, getting the Covid vaccination. Whilst it absolutely, quite rightly, is not mandated, as with the flu vaccine, I think the figures and the data speaks for itself as to the need both on a national and a personal perspective, to take up that opportunity.

Turning to other aspects of our people, we had the initial response, or summary of the response of the national staff survey. I think it’s fair that this reflects and reinforces some of the challenges and the responses that have come through the other recent surveys, both the CQC survey report and our own sexual harassment survey. It reinforces the need for the organisation to continue the focus on addressing those culture and behaviour issues. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll see a further pulse survey come out, and this is one of the important ways that the organisation feels it can monitor the impact of all the work that we are doing from a cultural perspective.

Turning to performance and our ability as an organisation to continue to deliver a safe service to our patients, despite the challenges of this wave of the pandemic. We have been maintaining a safe service, and I think that is absolute testament to hard work that is going on at every single level of the organisation. The planning and preparation that I referred to when speaking about Dorothy, and the positive approach that she took in addressing the pandemic this time last year. We have remarkably managed to maintain our resource on the front line, to support patient care, and that’s no mean feat compared to the challenges that other organisations have experienced through Covid absences, as well as the impact of the Winter sickness as well. And this is testament to the preparation and planning of the teams, but also to the ongoing focus that everyone in organisation has towards their own wellbeing and safety and their colleague’s wellbeing and safety.

There is some really positive work in response to the Health and Safety executives concerns that were raised before Christmas in ensuring that our Covid secure measures are right, and that our compliance with PPE and other Covid preventative measures are all in place. So, a big thank you to everyone who is playing a part in the ability of this organisation to both perform for our own patients, but to also support other areas of the health and social system that may be struggling, and understandably so, but we continue to support those areas.

We are seeing extra capacity through our contingency planning, and you will be working alongside colleagues from Fire and Rescue, from the Police and from other areas of health and social care, as well as in the near future, the military. All of these are pre planned contingency planning, and really necessary to maintain that ability to provide a safe service. We absolutely recognise the impact that that has on colleagues who may feel understandably challenged in having to change the way of working. But, again, a great credit to people who have done so in a professional and quietly unassuming way for the benefit of your patients.

Over the next week on Need to Know we’ll also see a request for support staff to come forward with any additional skills they have to support the operational delivery of the organisation. So far we’ve had 150 responses where people have come forward with skills that may support, for example C1 driving license, which will enable support staff where able, because, again, our support services are doing a fantastic job at keeping this organisation moving, so we do need to balance the capacity within those groups. However, we’ve got further people coming forward where we can provide further contingency if we need it.

I think we are seeing a slowing down of the rate of infection across the East of England, and that means that these contingency plans are important but hopefully part of the approach of prepare for the worst and hope for the best. And whilst it’s important that we continue with the preparation, we’re hopeful with the figures that we are seeing, that we continue to support our patient need without having to reach the end of our contingency plans.

Just finally before I open up to questions, we continue with our CQC and regulatory progress, and responses to both the HSC and CQC are ongoing. As you can hopefully see on the screen, this is our most up to date now, CQC update that will go on to Need to Know if it’s not already there. The focus is on this month on staff engagement and governance, and hopefully these updates that come on a monthly basis are helpful to staff across the organisation in understanding where the organisation is moving forward with the outcome of the CQC report from last September. So, feedback as ever is really welcome, if there’s too little or too much you’d like to see a different way of presenting the information then please do feed that back. I think as an organisation I think we are building on the learning approach to patient safety and spreading that across the organisation so that we are not only learning when it comes to direct patient safety care, but learning as an organisation through the same open and listening approach.

Published 25th January 2021