I’m delighted to begin by confirming that we will be hosting a further celebration event for nursing staff for the second consecutive year in 2019. As you may remember, former patient Paul Thomas supported and hosted the event last year and has kindly offered to do so again. This year the awards will be extended to include all nursing staff, midwives and healthcare assistants. The celebration will take place on Friday 10 May, to coincide with International Nurses Day and full details with award categories and how to nominate will follow in the New Year. This does not replace our annual recognition event for all staff, The Pride of Portsmouth Awards, which will take place in the Autumn.
Throughout this week I have again been touched by the immense generosity of our local community who have donated gifts for many of our patients across the hospital. This year departments created wish lists for patients which the public could contribute to if they wished and these have received many generous contributions. In addition some of our local community have been dropping off presents for patients throughout the week. Portsmouth Football Club, the Gosport Riders and local Co-op stores are just a few of those who have visited the hospital and generously donated gifts. Thank you to all those organisations and individuals who take time to remember our patients as well as say thank you to our staff at this time of year.
I would also like to thank all of the community choirs who have taken time to come to the hospital and perform for our staff, patients and visitors. We have been lucky enough to enjoy a performance almost every day over the past two weeks and we are hugely grateful to each choir for giving our hospital some festive cheer. Our respiratory choir have also been getting into the Christmas spirit and produced yet another fantastic song. The Twelve ‘Respiratory’ Days of Christmas is available on our Youtube channel. Thanks to choirmaster Bev Vaughan and her team for their seemingly endless supply of parodies.
Winter is now upon us and you may have seen increasing speculation in the media about how the NHS will respond to winter pressures following the challenges experienced right across the country last year. Our preparations received some encouraging media coverage yesterday as Dr John Knighton described, in a number of TV and radio interviews, the extent of our preparations at PHT and colleagues from the community described how we have worked together across Portsmouth and SE Hampshire. So far the weather has been relatively mild, but we are now in the flu season and have started to see the first few confirmed cases of flu and this is likely to increase over the coming weeks. I have no doubt there will be busy times ahead as we progress through winter, but I believe we are as prepared as we can be.
After a very busy start to the week, and as part of our Home for Christmas preparations, we have placed greater emphasis on discharging patients to their homes or in the community. An enormous effort has been put in by teams within QA and across the community to support the initiative. Thank you to everyone for their input and focus to reduce delays for our patients. The impact of these efforts have enabled us to go into the weekend at OPEL level 1, the lowest level of escalation, which is a significant improvement on this time last year and puts us in a strong position to provide a better experience for our patients.
As this will be my last message before Christmas I would like to wish you all, your families and friends a very happy, and peaceful Christmas. I appreciate that many of you will be working over the festive period and as a result will be spending less time with your friends, families and loved ones. I do however hope you manage to enjoy some time away from the Trust to spend time with others.
When we consider a career in the health service, we know that we will be contributing to the care and treatment of our patients whenever they need us, 24/7 and 365 days of the year. We also know that we will have over 1000 patients in hospital on Christmas Day alone, with hundreds of others accessing our services each day. Christmas can be a difficult time for some, when feelings of loneliness and isolation can be magnified and we should not underestimate the personal impact we will have on each and every one of those patients.
I look forward to seeing some of you on our wards and in departments on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but if I do not, please do have a wonderful time.
As ever, thank you for the magnificent lengths to which you go, to provide outstanding care to our patients.