Thursday 25th November - Leadership message from Bob Champion, Interim Director of Workforce

Not every disability is visible

True stories of hidden disabilities

Invisible or hidden disabilities have an enormous impact on people’s lives. It is currently Disability History Month (18th November until 18th December) and this year’s theme is about living with a hidden disability. This week, I have had the privilege of reading stories written by some of our colleagues about what it is like living and working with a hidden disability, and I have been blown away not just by their bravery and resilience but also their humour. The stories include a huge range of hidden disabilities, from autism and brittle bone disease to Crohn’s and they reminded me that we should never make assumptions about our colleagues, everyone’s background is different. Their stories will be published on NTK over the coming weeks. Please do take the time to read them. 

Celebrating our people

These stories along with those from Black History Month are a wonderful reminder of the great diversity of the NHS workforce. You are the heart of our organisation, and as part of our new ‘We are EEAST’ campaign, we’re asking you to be the face of the Trust too. We want to celebrate the brilliant work being carried out daily by our brilliant people and are gathering case studies from staff Trust-wide, from a variety of roles and backgrounds to share colleagues across the organisation. Thank you to those of you who have already responded. It is taking time to go through all the responses, but we will be in touch with you soon. If you’d like to get involved, you can find more information about it on Need to Know.

At 6pm tonight, Thursday 25th November, we will celebrate the achievements of staff who have gone above and beyond at our annual ‘Stars of EEAST’ awards ceremony. As this is an online event with none of the usual restrictions around space and numbers, we are able to invite everyone who works or volunteers for EEAST. There is more information, including the link to join the event, here.

Increasing welfare support

We have invested an additional £170,000 in wellbeing support for staff. This includes removing the cap on mental health support and increasing the help available for musculo-skeletal issues. You can find our more from our well-being hub on Need to Know.

We will also be funding six extra welfare wagons to go out and about across our region. A number of colleagues have been asking how they can support our people over this winter and Christmas. We are looking for volunteers to help with both our current welfare vehicles and the new vehicles – so if you are able to spare some time over the winter and would like to get involved you can do this by filling in this form.

We will also be opening up this volunteering opportunity more broadly outside of the Trust so if you have family members or friends who would like to support our service, watch this space.

Supporting our people

It is so important that we are all able to bring our whole selves to work and be supported in doing that. To offer the best possible support to our staff and consequently the best possible care to our patients, it is important that we understand the shape and size of our workforce. Nearly 13% of staff have not completed the personal data section in relation to ethnic origin or disability on their electronic staff record (ESR). Please help us by completing these data fields as soon as possible.

This has been a challenging year for the whole of the NHS with incredible demands on our service. The pandemic is not over and we must continue to keep each other and our patients safe. Please read the guidance on Christmas celebrations and let’s think of new and different ways to celebrate the festive season together.

Welcoming new senior colleagues

Last week, I was pleased to be able to announce the first three permanent executive directors who will be joining us soon, these are:

  • Hein Scheffer, joining us as Director of Strategy Culture and Education in April 2022.
  • Marika Stephenson, joining us as Director of People Services on 1st December 2021.
  • Emma De-Carteret, as Director of Corporate Affairs and Performance on 1st December 2021.

I know that you will make them very welcome.  

Have your say

Lastly, if you haven’t done so, please make sure you complete your staff survey before this Friday’s deadline (25th November). Our response rate is currently 43% but we would love this to be higher to ensure we have the best possible view of how you currently feel about working for EEAST in order to focus future improvements.

Stay safe and look after yourself,

Bob Champion
Interim Director of Workforce

25th November 2021