We Are EEAST Briefing 7th January 2021

WeAreEEAST Briefing, Thursday 7th January with Dr Tom Davis, Acting CEO and Marcus Bailey, Chief Operating Officer.

Good afternoon and thank you for joining me for this first leadership message of 2021. I’m Tom Davis, the Acting Chief Executive, and I’m joined today by Marcus, and between us we will take us through some key messages from the two weeks and a bit of a look forward as well.

So, as we start the new year we start with a new lockdown, and the organisation and the system around us once again having to be at the forefront of the challenges of a pandemic as well as Winter, and the challenges that we know Winter alone throws at us.

Whilst we can’t ever be complacent, I wanted to highlight our performance over the last two of weeks. We provided a resilient and safe service for our patients despite the challenges and despite this being a really challenging time. I think that is testament to the hard work that everyone has done in the organisation, at every level of the organisation, not only in the hear and now, but in the leading up to this period and in the preparation, and in the lessons that we’ve learnt from previous years, especially from the risk summit of 17/18 and then through to the work that we’ve done in preparation from phase one of the pandemic, that is proving invaluable to this phase.

We’ve not only been able to manage a safe service for the patients that call 999, but we’ve also been able to help the wider health system, both our ambulance colleagues in London Ambulance Service and South East Coast Ambulance Service, but also to other NHS Trusts and other systems in the East of England, where we’re seeing significant challenges through the workload that the Covid pandemic is delivering.

So, this partnership working is not only important for the organisation, but it is also very important for our sickest patients. This partnership working means that more sick patients are getting the care they need in an expedient time, not only in the East of England, but across the South East of country.

So, I’m just going to ask Marcus to join us and talk about some areas of the organisation from his perspective, then I’ll come back to some further bits around progress afterwards, and just to remind everyone, these sessions are as much for you to ask questions of myself and Marcus as it is for us to give information. So, if you would like to post anything in the question box we will answer those in live time, and additionally if you want to ask something and you would rather do so in the OCE East email please do and we will come back to you as soon as possible.

So, I will just hand over to Marcus, and then join you back for some questions afterwards. Thanks Marcus.

Thanks everyone and afternoon. So, just really to update you from me on a couple of things, and I want to I guess focus on Covid itself and keeping safe. So, Tom mentioned about the great work that actually you have all done and the preparation that the organisations undertaken for Winter. It’s not lost on us as an Exec team, not lost on you and colleagues that this really is truly a team effort. This is absolutely about you and what you’ve been doing for our patients while we’ve been supporting, trying to understand how do we really stay ahead and implement plans that we’ve done as well.

Each and every person who has been on duty and supporting in Support Services has absolutely helped us look after our patients and also to help look after yourselves as well.

It’s been tough and it’s been difficult, it will still continue, and we think that this will continue through January with the peak despite the national lockdown measures as well. It’s also very personal time as well, I’ve just attended the funeral of Barry Jarvis, who was one of our long standing members of staff and a trade union representative who’s spent a lot of time, and that’s a very, very personal story for people involved, and really, in a way, brings home Covid... the impact to all of us in terms of work, home, colleagues, patients. And, also really I guess a reminder, why Julie Barnes, one of our supervisors over in Hertfordshire, part of the make ready team, has had Covid and shared her story and some key messages from that, what I’d ask is you spend some time watching the video, and really just to spend some time thinking, some time reflecting. But also, the really important stuff, and I know there is already a couple of questions in already about vaccinations, and we’ll come on to those in a short while, because you’re absolutely right, it has been one of priorities that we’ve been trying to sort to get you vaccinated.

Look, this is scary, it is unnatural and uncertain times. I think for us and everything that we’ve read and seen, the discussions we’ve had with Public Health, the steps that we take, truly the use of correct PPE, the use of the correct level of PPE, the handwashing, the social distancing… maintaining that is so, so important. This is the bits that will help keep you safe, this is the bits that will help keep our patients safe, and this will keep your families safe as well. And we keep… I guess we probably sound like broken records going on about it now, but actually it is so, so important, so important.

And look, we’ve got to remind each other, and Tom and myself spoke last week when we met, about being brave to speak up about concerns, but actually it’s also about being brave to speak up to colleagues, remind them to support, because actually part of the Trust values is teamwork. It’s really important to support and assist each other on that.

A couple of things that we have taken some decisions on as an organisation, based around your feedback, your concerns. So, aprons, that we have just ordered. We managed to find a supply because they have been really difficult to find, so we’ve got some heavier weight aprons coming in. They’re not the normal supply chain ones, but we’ve managed to secure some of them ahead of the supply chain being established within the Trust because actually it was a lot of the feedback and the concerns, so we’re doing that.

The other bit, and I pick up on one of the question’s, is about the FFP-3 masks. These are really challenging because there are, and it’s fair to say there isn’t a national shortage of FFP-3 masks, but the difficulty is that the supply can be a different supply, which means we have to keep reoffering and putting out refit testing every single time because it might be a different supply chain.

So last week from an Exec meeting and the incident management meeting that happens on a daily basis, we approved the purchase of reusable FFP-3 masks. So, you change the filters, they can be cleaned using the cleaning products that we have available to us. But once it is fitted for you as an individual we’re then being able to work through and be able to support you having that mask and us replacing the filters. So really what it does do is it looks to reduce the reliance because we’re not going to get different variants, you have it and that’s important.

The other bit I just wanted to update you on is the Health and Safety Executive. So, from our point of view we are working through that improvement notice, and we’ve done and number of things, and you’ll see coming out later on this week, a Covid secure online package, and it is really important because we are at a stage where we really have to, I say, knuckle down on some of the basic elements of social distancing.

And while it’s important in a clinical area, and it absolutely is important, absolutely vital, and we’re seeing some difficult examples of human factor type incidents where a patient may suddenly deteriorate which is a paediatric patient, and the ability for people to have the full process and bandwidth of using a level 3 PPE, there is clearly understanding in that human factor. But when we talk about some of the basic bits of hand washing, social distancing, wearing masks, all of these are designed to protect. This is a health and safety matter for all of us to do, and we’re really asking and really urging with the packaging we’re doing, let’s really help and let’s really focus, and let’s really look after each other in that whole team bit as well. We can see colleagues in Mid and South Essex and in our Chelmsford control room, as it affects the population it affects us as well, and that’s why and what we’re able to do and what we’re able to undertake as well.

So, I think for me, again, it’s a big thank you for what you’re doing, and we do appreciate that it is very, very difficult and we appreciate that it is very, very challenging as well. We are working to try and make those improvements and put those things in place from the feedback that you’ve been able to give us and also from the latest advice and guidance that we get in relation to ambulance services and us as well. And the team are coming up with some innovative ways, they are coming up with patterns and things where they are looking at offering more PCR testing for Covid based around different symptoms as well, so there is a lot of work ongoing in the background. But the key bit, keeping you safe, keeping everyone safe, including our patients as well.

Before I hand back to Tom just for the next bit, I also wanted to say thank you to those people over the last two week’s who’ve really…we have had to change some of the stuff that we do, there’s been a lot more in terms of mutual aid to facilitate, the patients waiting, the impact of Covid in certain areas, the challenges with short notice staff absence and the flexibility everyone has shown… this is what is truly great about us as an ambulance service, the ability to support each other an to adapt. It may feel strange and it may feel difficult in terms of where we are, but actually for me I think it’s really, really important and I just really want to say thank you on behalf of myself, Tom and the rest of Exec and Board for the way that people have really adapted to supporting over the last couple of weeks.

Published 11th January 2021