Leadership Message from Terry Hicks

Terry Hicks

The summer weeks always bring a variety of challenges for ambulance services, and the wider health system; high annual leave, better temperatures, school holidays and increased demand from tourists, as they traverse across our region. My sector, Norfolk & Waveney, is one area that always sees an increase in seasonal demand – the population increases by a third for us in a few short weeks. Most of our visitors will head to the coastal towns, some for a few days, some for just a single day. This is equally true of many other parts of the region.

Whilst we generally have a flat staffing profile throughout the whole year, we recognise that we do need to operate slightly differently for a few short weeks. To that end, this year in Norfolk & Waveney, we are maintaining some of our resources into the coastal areas, maximising the use of our community responders, military co-responders, and charity partner teams, as well as targeting our cycle response teams wisely. These volunteers are an integral part of delivering safe and effective patient care to our more rural towns & villages. This links well to the ‘Good’ rating from the CQC narrative for being responsive to the needs of our communities.

You will also have seen that we have also taken the decision to support our staffing across the trust, with the introduction of an incentive scheme that covers the next few weeks, as well as asking our clinical managers to spend some of their working week on Double Staffed Ambulances (DSAs). This will help to keep our patients, and each other, as safe as possible. This is also an ideal opportunity for you to speak directly to one of your local and senior managers within your working environment – another link to the CQC report, where we want to understand what matters to you, and where we can influence any positive changes with your help.

I have always maintained that I don’t have all the answers, nor the solutions; it is only by working with you that we can create positive and sustainable change.

Our local and regional recruitment teams are working hard to increase our operational staffing, to minimise the impacts that the variations in demand cause; some areas are further ahead than others, but we should be on plan to deliver an increased staffing level by the end of the financial year. If you can support locally at events, or recruitment fairs, please contact your local leads.

It seems a little strange, also, that we should have one eye on winter, when we are in August, but we have already started planning for this. Some of you may have seen that there has been a sharp rise in influenza cases in Australasia over the past few weeks. This is often an indicator of how the UK ‘flu season will develop. Once again, this year, we will be offering vaccines for our staff from late September onwards. It’s important that we understand our responsibility in the delivery of health care to protect ourselves, our patients, and our families, by early uptakes of the vaccines when they become available. This also links back into the CQC report, where our response to ‘flu will fall back into the ‘Safe’ domain.

Finally, I would like to extend a thank you to your family and friends, as without them, you couldn’t deliver the great work that you do. Please stay safe across the next few weeks, whether that is at work, or with your family and friends.


Published 15th August 2019

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