For once the weather forecast has been spot on this week. The ‘Beast from the East’ did exactly what it promised, bringing the most atrocious weather conditions to the North East.
Once again I was totally overwhelmed by the epic efforts you went to, to make sure that our service users and their families, and indeed your colleagues, were kept safe and supported. It was a truly wonderful effort from you all, those of you who work directly with service users and those of you who make sure that they can. I continue to be incredibly proud to be part of Team NTW.
The lengths that many of you went to are truly humbling. I’ve heard stories of people in all of our local communities walking up to six miles and for several hours in the most appalling conditions to get to inpatient wards and community services. Many members of staff stayed overnight at our hospitals to ensure that that shifts were covered. People in Access and Inpatient teams have come in during their annual leave and have stayed well after their usual shifts to cover nightshifts. Some recently retired staff offered their services. Many of you endured horrific car, bus and train journeys.
Community staff have hit the phones in huge numbers to support patients where face to face contacts couldn’t happen. This was supported by an impressive informatics response – over 1,200 users were using remote access on Wednesday which is about 30-40% of the users who would usually be on site and four times more than the usual use. The infrastructure team worked late into the evening on Wednesday to upgrade servers to support the increased remote working. Skype was in high demand and the teams also set up numerous phone diverts remotely so that staff could answer calls for sites with no or limited staffing.
Elsewhere community staff have been braving the roads to collect prescriptions, give medication and also getting other supplies for service users.
A special mention must go to the estates teams who have been relentlessly snow clearing across our sites. How they kept the bank open at St George’s Park is beyond me and I know that all of our sites have required hours and hours of digging to keep them operational and safe.
It’s been great to hear about how grateful people have been for the pizza deliveries, the sleeping bags and the cups of tea. Small gestures that just remind us that we are all a team who need each other.
There are far too many wonderful stories to mention all of them. Our Facebook page has many more amazing tales. So please accept my personal thanks to each and every one of you for your superhuman response to this exceptional week.