As the end of the summer draws near our attention is turning to the approach of winter. A lot of preparation work has already been done, working together with our local partners, to help ensure we are as prepared as possible to respond. I want to make sure you are up to speed on our plans so my message this week is focused on this important topic.
Our winter plan aims to ensure that there is enough capacity in the community and in hospital to deal with any additional demand during the winter period. This is better for our patients as they experience fewer delays, and better for staff as the hospital is a less pressurised environment to work in. We cannot do this on our own, and the local health and social care system is working together to ensure the plan is delivered. Our colleagues across the NHS and in local authorities have also been working hard to prepare and significant investment has gone into increasing capacity in domiciliary care, reablement support, fast track and continuing health care so that more care is delivered at home or in the community. We have also received additional funding from NHS England and NHS Improvement for some minor building works, which forms part of our internal plan and is something which we wholeheartedly welcome.
Our role within the system is key and there are a number of things we need to do to help including ensuring timely treatment of cancer and elective patients during winter, reducing the risk of ambulance delays, reducing the risk of patients whose discharge from hospital is delayed and reducing the risk of outliers and patient moves out of hours.
In recent months action has been taken to make sure we can deliver our part of the plan, by:
Earlier this month we were delighted to learn that we are one of a few Trusts who will benefit from national funding to help prepare for winter. We have been allocated £2.8million and from 1 October we will be undertaking some work in the Emergency Department. The corridor currently housing the ED seminar room and ED consultant offices is being refurbished to create a Frailty Intervention Unit ahead of winter, and the Emergency Decision Unit is being refurbished to create a bereavement suite and a cubicle for patients with a mental health need.
So what can you do to help? Please make sure you know what the specific plans are within your Division, Care Group and department to respond to winter, and if you aren’t sure then please ask your line manager. Also, please get your flu jab. Last year the incidence of flu was much higher than in previous years and it is important we do everything we can to protect ourselves and our patients. We understand this year’s flu jab has shown to be very effective to the strains observed in Australasia and we will be making it even easier to get immunised whilst at work so please make every effort to get yourself protected. And finally, start planning early in your teams for annual leave and cover arrangements, focusing on the usual pinchpoints, so that we are as prepared as we can be.
I know that some of you may be apprehensive about winter following the pressures we saw last year and particularly due to some of the staffing challenges we currently face, in common with Trusts across the country. However our planning for winter started much earlier this year, and as I outlined in my message two weeks ago, we have a range of plans in place to help reduce some of the gaps in our workforce, not limited to, but with a particular focus on nursing.
Our winter plan has been developed in conjunction with colleagues across the system and over the coming weeks we will be testing it with members of the simulation and EPRR team to ensure we are fully prepared. Chief Operating Officer Paul Bytheway will also be hosting a series of drop-ins to provide more detail about our plans and answer any queries you may have. Full details of the dates and times will be circulated shortly.
Thank you for all that you do to care for each and every one of our patients. Many thanks,