We Are EEAST briefing 28th January 2021

We are EEAST briefing 28th January 2021 with Dr Tom Davis, Acting CEO and Marcus Bailey, Chief Operating Officer.

Good afternoon and thank you again for joining me for this week’s Executive Q&A session. My name is Tom Davis, I’m the Interim Chief Executive, and joined today by Marcus Bailey, our Chief Operating Officer.

As always, these sessions are for you to ask us questions and for us to, hopefully, be able to answer them in the here and now. If we’re not able to, then we will obviously ensure that an answer comes back to you as soon as possible. These sessions remain recorded and posted on Need to Know, so please encourage your colleagues to listen in if they want to hear the answers at a later date. As always, if you have anything else please do contact me through the OCE EEAST email, or through your line managers or your respective Exec Directors.

This week we are dedicating a week to saying a big thank you to all the hard work our staff and volunteers have been doing and continue to do, going above and beyond during this pandemic. Whilst it maybe a small show of gratitude, we absolutely believe that this is an important thing to do, it’s an incredibly busy time for the NHS, and society in general, and you all continue to show commitment to each other, your colleagues, your communities and our patients every single day.

Hopefully you will have seen on Need to Know and other social media, our famous faces from Eastern region, they have been fantastic in giving up their time and giving some messages to our staff. So, we’ve had Stephen Fry, Griff Rhys Jones, Jake Humphrey, Dan from The Darkness and members of Norwich City Football Club. These will all be shared during the week, and I encourage you to go on to Need to Know and the link into the social media because there are other famous faces that you’ll be hopefully surprised to hear from on there too.

Myself and the Chair have been doing some media interviews to highlight the great work that you do, and hopefully this is translating through the organisation and everyone is taking time to thank each other even as a small gesture. We’ve also been revisiting some of our past Hidden Gem staff awards, publicising some compliments that our teams have received on social media, and addition we are looking at messages that will hopefully be a much-needed boost during this challenging period.

I think we’re also wanting to focus, and we are focusing on, the need to celebrate our Trust values of care, teamwork, quality, respect and honesty. They are at the heart of everything we do, and they are intrinsically linked to the work that we are doing in response to the CQC and in looking at our culture. So, it’s absolutely great to be able to sit here and say a big thank you to everyone, but it is intrinsically linked to everyone working really hard and demonstrating on a day-to-day basis, those values that we hold dear to ourselves.

I’ll touch very briefly on vaccinations and then ask Marcus to speak on some other topics before we look at any questions. Again, we have done a fantastic job, as an organisation, in supporting access to vaccination. We’ve had both our internal program and the access to our partner Trust’s across the East of England. We currently have around 70% of staff having been vaccinated and are working rapidly to ensure that everyone has had the opportunity to be vaccinated where they are eligible.

We’ve got plenty of vaccines and lots of sites available for booking, it’s easy to book, and please do. If you haven’t arranged your vaccination and you do want a vaccination please do so as soon as possible. The vaccination will be available beyond the end of January, but we are very keen to ensure that everyone’s had that opportunity in the next couple of days.

So, over to Marcus for a few more words, then we’ll take some questions.

Thanks Tom and hi everybody, thanks for joining. So, to really pick up, I guess for me it is a thank you, after twenty odd years here in the ambulance service, this has been really a truly relentless time for all of us. We’ve gone from Winter, Summer, Winter and Covid in between, and it has just been really, I guess, really, really challenging within that. The thank you also means for us the ability to step back and reflect and look at what we have achieved. I have also reflected this year that we are spending a long time working and trying to sort out what we haven’t done, but actually when we step back, we have also done a number of really positive things, and we’ve achieved a number of positive and really good areas.

For me, I think the wellbeing resilience of us all is really important, and the time to think about family and friends. Colleagues across the region has gone through a very difficult time with the loss of colleagues, us in our personal lives are not immune to that, and that for us really just links in to the thank you, to take that time to reflect, and to consider and think as well.

A couple of bits I also wanted to pick up on is about where we are now and how do we move forward. There’s a number of things just in the practical terms about learning, the lessons learnt and the experience we’ve had through Covid. Some of these we are absolutely able to take through to our business as usual, i.e what does the future look like, and we also know that it has genuinely opened up some very different discussions with our commissioners, and also about how that will affect, and I guess, undertake our work going forward, and how the public view and look at an NHS emergency ambulance service, and for us about the opportunities that exist going forward.

That gives us a real opportunity. It gives us a real opportunity to be able to look at models of care and new ways of working. Really now we’ve got the staffing numbers coming in and when we’ve finished off training, the ability to look at some of the advance of practice as well, whilst also making sure that we are careful, considerate, and that from our point of view, that we lead well particularly around wellbeing and we’re supporting everyone in that sense as well.

So, Covid hasn’t gone away, and we shouldn’t underestimate that, and we’ve seen by some of the briefings over the last few days by the government that the restrictions, or the lockdown, will continue. What we do have to start thinking about is the future, so we have to start shaping some of that ourselves, and that’s exactly what we are now starting to think about moving forward as well.

Just a reminder and just an ask for people around just maintaining the great work we have seen and the improvement we have seen of people supporting the Covid secure. We know fully well from the evidence that is taken from the hospitals and the early review of community spread of Covid, some of the simple bits around space, cover your face and also hand washing are really, really important as we move forward as well. And I know one of the questions we’ve got in the chat is still about… we’re chasing down the apron question. Because we have authorised and purchased, we’re just waiting on the supply chain to come in because these are outside of NHS supply chain and we have gone to procure additional aprons.

I think what we do know is that the current aprons do meet a standard, they are able to be used, and clearly the operating environment that we have is a challenging one. It is really, really difficult and we know that brings a number of challenges. I think from our point of view, that in terms of satisfied and the risk associated with staff, we will always look to do what we can to reduce the risk, and we ask you to do your bit, we need to do our bit as well. We know that from an apron perspective that outside is always really difficult because we know the environment that you work in is more challenging, and we know that the Level 2/Level 3 PPE give an option relating to AGP’s and non-AGP’s.

I think what I would say is that it is really difficult to link any of the stuff to say that it is down to an apron, what I would say is very much about combination of all measures, but very much focused on those basic ones of cleaning and decontamination of vehicles, handwashing and the protection. Most of the spread was about either incorrect use of PPE when they get to the studies, or i.e people thinking that they were protected by using a higher level, when actually what we then do is we then drop some of the really basic bits around hand washing and also remembering space. And this is where we’ve had to make some really difficult decisions this year in line with the best guidance we can, where we’ve not been able to have say the Christmas buffet’s on station because of the sharing and the contact, the proximity, and really about reinforcing some of the basic elements that sit behind there as well.

What we do know, we do know that from some of the facts and figures that we have seen particularly around colleagues who are unwell or stood down, a number of the cases and the contacts are out of work environment. So they tend to be bubbles or support networks, or from other contact such as shopping within there as well, and I guess in a way in part that follows because of the protective mechanisms that you have within the organisation.

The other bit in there as well is we are in open dialogue with other agencies learning, and also Health and Safety Executive, really focusing on the learning and improving, and I guess that responsibility element that we all share, and that we have, and we need as well within that. So, specifically about that, I’m literally chasing it down, because some of the questions have come in, so hopefully we’ll get an answer very shortly about where they are in the supply chain, but again, to reinforce, we’re not stopping anything because of money, this is absolutely about a supply chain challenge and the heavier weight aprons are in there as well.

From a Trust Board perspective, the Trust Board receive reports on IPC and we are doing specific updates going forward about deep dive, so a review and a culmination of what we think we have learnt from Covid, including concerns, issues and challenges, particularly as a collective as well. So, there’s nothing in there that we won’t share, the Trust Board has been moving forwards in terms of comments as well.

Tom, shall I hand back to yourself.

So, I think it seems a long time ago, but the start of this session and how I’d like to end the session, is with the big thank you. It’s really important that we have the questions around the topics that are key to people and absolutely not taking anything away from the contents of the questions, but I do want to not forget that the message this week is around that big thank you. People are working really hard, staff, volunteers, wider communities. I think it’s used far too much, but this is extraordinary times and people continue to show commitment to themselves, their colleagues and their patients on a daily basis.

Please do have a look at Need to Know and social media and the fantastic messages that we have had from our famous faces, as I say, there are a few surprises over the next couple of days, so please make sure you visit those sites.

If you want to join in the conversation, if you want to add to the social media, put your own messages on then it is #thanksTeamEEAST, and please do add to those comments because I think it’s really important that we continue to say thank you to each other, because whilst it’s a small two words, it can have a big impact on peoples days, and in a small way goes towards acknowledging the commitment and hard work that everyone is doing.

So, thank you Marcus for joining me, thank you to those of you behind the scenes, if there are questions that people want them please do continue to make contact, please do take up the vaccinations and ensure that you’re able to do so through the easy system that hopefully we have ongoing in the organisation, but most importantly please do keep working hard at keeping yourselves safe, your colleagues safe, your families and communities, and your patients safe.

A big thank you from me and take care.  

Published 1st February 2021