We are asking staff to ‘keep talking and keep caring for one another’ after what they describe as one of the most pressured winters they have ever experienced.
Trust bosses have issued the rallying cry after becoming one of the hardest hit hospitals with COVID-19 patients during the second wave of the pandemic. At the height of their admissions they had over 200 patients being treated form the virus in comparison to highs of around 76 in the first wave.
Chief Nurse Lindsey Robertson explained the move: “Our staff, and indeed all key workers across the country had such a challenging year last year, and continue to face enormous challenges.
“They have worked to keep us safe, fed, watered, our children and young people educated and so much more. Just when we might ordinarily be having some respite – our energy levels need to power up once again. Few had the luxury of a summer holiday in the sun last year, that work-life balance is so critical to how we contribute positively to what we do. So all we can do is ask that we all keep talking and keep caring for one another.”
The Stockton and Hartlepool based trust employs over 5,500 staff across the region, and say they have faced ‘significant staffing challenges’ during the ongoing pandemic.
Alan Sheppard, Chief People Officer for the organisation said: “Staffing resilience is always tested during the winter periods. NHS staff are not immune to the viruses and colds we see around this time of the year. That said, the efforts employed to support gaps, pick up shifts and adapt to new roles by our staff has humbled me.
“We have even been able to introduce a new role – a Team Support Worker – there to support as an extra pair of hands on our wards and across our hospitals. The roles are a real opportunity for those who might have thought the NHS would not be an option for them as an employer previously.”
The Trust say the introduction of a specialist app – ‘Listening into Action’ has also helped them to understand and adapt how they work to support the wellbeing of their staff. With over 2,000 responses during wave one of the pandemic they say they were able to action a bid for Captain Sir Tom Moore’s charity monies to launch their ‘Rainbow Rooms’ – a space for staff to relax and recharge.
“We see the light”
Lindsey sums up the plea: “We are not through this pandemic, though we see light – the vaccines and some of the stricter measures now in place should help. We all want an end to this, to get to our ‘new normal’ but in the meantime we all need to keep talking to one another (even if that is via an app for now) and keep caring. The very fabric of the NHS is compassion, and our staff, I am exceptionally proud to say have it in abundance.”