Leadership message from Head of Infection, Prevention and Control, David Cunningham

Dave Cunningham

It is an honour to be asked to deliver the Trust leadership message again. I had the opportunity to provide the leadership message back in February just as the COVID-19 pandemic was developing. In fact, Italy had just seen the surge of cases and areas were going into lockdown. Since then the UK also went into lockdown, and there has been a huge amount of change and challenge faced by all. Even simple things that we often took for granted, like going to the shops, have changed considerably.

Throughout the pandemic there has been lots of change and often the pace of this has been a real challenge in itself. Sometimes the changes have happened so quickly that its caused confusion and we have been overwhelmed by the amounts of information, from a variety of sources. But something that has really stood out to me, is how the Trust has pulled together to face these challenges. All the different teams and staff groups have worked as Team EEAST for the benefit of our patients. It is things like this which reinforce why the Trust delivers outstanding care to our patients.

Well done to you all, as this has been a challenging time for the Trust and all the NHS. What has been really evident throughout this is that in times of pressure and challenge you have all risen to the challenge and demonstrated the true values of our Trust.

As you will have seen in the media, we are starting to see increased cases across Europe and the talk of a second wave is also increasing. You may also of seen that there has been a message from the Chief medical officers to extend the isolation period from 7 to 10 days for those who develop COVID, the action cards have been updated to reflect this and are available on East24. It remains crucial that we continue to play our part in following the guidance and advice on limiting the spread of the virus and protecting each other and our patients.

You will have all seen the Working Safely through COVID guidance and the changes being brought in across Trust sites to help limit the spread of the virus. There has been recent guidance for the public to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces and this is the same for some areas across the Trust. It is important to consider the control measures to help reduce the spread, such as regular hand hygiene, regular cleaning of surfaces and maintaining social/physical distancing of 2m. Where this cannot be maintained it is important that you wear a face mask as this helps to protect your colleagues if you are in the pre-symptomatic stage of the infection.

As a Clinical Directorate we are always looking for ways to improve and support our teams and one way we have been working to do this it through managers Q&A webinars. These have worked well, and we are now looking to host these for all staff. These ‘Ask the Clinical Team’ Q&A webinars will be due to commence at the end of August and be hosted virtually through Microsoft Teams. Each webinar will have a selection of members of the Clinical Directorate available to give any key updates and answer questions from the audience. All staff will be able to join the sessions and ask questions from the panel throughout the session.

Finally, I would like to thank you all for the hard work and dedication you have shown over the recent months and continue to show each day in rising to the challenge of COVID-19.

Published 30th July 2020

Hi David,

Thank you for your comment and it’s an interesting point you raise, it’s disappointing to hear that you have not heard back from the Datix which you submitted but I am sure your local management team will be able to support you with that.

In relation to social distancing, as you will know the Trust has followed the National Guidance throughout the pandemic and the guidance in relation to social distancing has been no exception. The Trust introduced safety Checkpoints on Trust premises back in March to raise the awareness and we have had regular messages reminding staff of the importance of social distancing. The consistent message from the government and media has also emphasised the importance of social distancing throughout the pandemic. So, the advice to staff regarding the social distancing has been provided since the early stages of the pandemic, although I do acknowledge that the specific guidance around managing this on Trust premises wasn’t released until Mid-June.

Following the national publication of Working Safely guidance for different work environments and the introduction of Test & Trace in May, we developed specific guidance for all Ambulance Services which was released in Mid-June. Although, I think it is important to remember that this has been unprecedented times and this has been a rapidly evolving situation, it’s not always easy to get everything 100% correct every time. We know that although the expectation was there would be increased demand during April, May and June, the call volumes were lower than anticipated which resulted in more staff being on stations than usual, making social distancing more challenging. This was a supporting factor in developing specific guidance for working safely within the Ambulance Service non-clinical areas, to help ensure that there were clear plans for Trust premises.

I hope this addresses your concerns
Kind Regards

David Cunningham
09 August 2020

Hi. I would like to raise an issue about the very belated "social distancing" which only took place on stations, months after the pandemic was declared.
I was told to raise a DATIX after large numbers of staff were sent to a response post that was meant to be just for an RRV.
No response was ever received and this was from back in early May.
Can I ask why the Trust did not attempt to introduce proper "social distancing" on premises until the end of June?
Hopefully this will be responded to and on here, in case anyone else has similar concerns. Many thanks.

31 July 2020

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