Leadership message from John Syson, Director of Workforce

John Syson

I hope you were able to find some time on Tuesday to mark or reflect the anniversary of the first national pandemic lockdown.

The word ‘unprecedented’ has been used a lot over the past year, but I cannot think of another event in my lifetime that has come close to this. Covid has dominated our personal and professional lives as well as impacting on family, communities, business, education and the economy. Many of us will have suffered loss of colleagues and friends, illness and significant worry. The impact of Coronavirus will take years to play out, and to recover from. However, it has also reminded me - and I’m sure many others - of the importance of family, of health and of course, the role of the NHS.

Thanks to our successful vaccination programme, and the wider social distancing regulations, England is currently following the roadmap of lifting restrictions set out by the Government in January. An important next step is the ending of ‘shielding’ on 01 April - but I want to be clear what this means for our staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Staff who are shielding are not expected to return on immediately on 01 April. The end of shielding marks an important milestone on the nation’s recovery journey but the pandemic is not over. Staff who are currently shielding will be supported to return to their own, or a suitable alternative role on a timescale that ensures that their health and wellbeing is supported. We are currently preparing guidance to assist managers and staff with re-introductions to the workplace. This includes; updating COVID risk assessments, mandatory training and PU, planning for phased returns and the support people will need to return safely. We will be in touch with managers and staff in this group and their managers over the coming days to set out next steps.

Our work to improve our culture here at EEAST has continued throughout the pandemic and winter, and here is the latest one-page infographic showing recent activity. This includes taking action to tackle long-standing unacceptable behavior; more support for managers and; updated training and policies.  Please do take the time to read the summary as you did take the time to speak up, and it’s important you are aware of the activity underway. Changing our culture will take a long time, but every small step makes a difference.

Another good example of our activity is the new complaints procedure which starts next week. This is a big change in how we will manage complaints and concerns from now on, with more focus on individuals, time for teams to undertake a quality investigation, and for lessons to be properly learned. More information on this can be found here.

Finally, a reminder about an important part of our wellbeing support. Our employee assistance programme (EAP) provides free advice and support on a range of issues from childcare to financial worries, caring responsibilities to struggles with the impact of Covid. You can call the EAP, using a free confidential telephone line available around the clock, 24/7 on 0808 196 2374.

Thank you

John Syson
Director of Workforce



Published 25th March 2021