Statement from Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive
25 March 2020

Statement from Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive

I want to start with a huge thank you to everyone working in the NHS and Social Care, for their hard work and professional approach as we have prepared for the impact of this virus.

Coronavirus is the biggest challenge that the NHS has ever faced and we all have a part to play in our response.

At the moment the number of cases on the Isle of Wight remains relatively low compared to much of the country. But this will change and we are expecting more people to become unwell as a result of Coronavirus.

Public Health England will announce the confirmed cases on the Isle of Wight but in the last 24 hours we have seen five people in our care confirmed as having Coronavirus.

We are doing everything possible to prepare and we ask the public to help us by following the Government’s instruction to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

We have used the time available to us to make sure that we are as ready as possible.  We know that many people affected by Coronavirus require critical care support, and here at St Mary’s we are increasing the number of critical care beds we have available. That means more beds, more ventilators and lots of training for staff.

We've reconfigured some of our wards to create a new isolation ward, which opened last week, and we have plans for more isolation wards to open as they are needed.

We have taken delivery of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the national NHS supplies and more will be delivered as necessary.

Huge amounts of training has been going on all over the Trust to prepare our teams for what is coming in the days and weeks ahead.

We are recruiting more NHS111 call handlers to support people in isolation at home. Our mental health service has put more support in place for in patients and community services. Our community teams, supporting people in their homes and in nursing homes, have been a real inspiration. Reacting quickly, working hard, supporting and training others.

We have rolled out new technology and training to support staff and the people they care for in 80 care homes across the Island and we have introduced video conferencing to allow patient appointments in many of our other services to take place remotely.

To help protect patients, staff and the community we have announced strict restrictions on visitors to St Mary’s and Sevenacres. We have closed the restaurant in St Mary’s to non-NHS Staff, and we have closed the Friends of St Mary’s shop and café. 

We have also postponed all non-urgent operations, to free up beds, staff and equipment to deal with the very real emergency that’s coming. Please do not come to St Mary’s Hospital or Sevenacres without contacting us first.

We will have to take more action in the coming days and we know just how worrying this is for people. Everyone at the hospital, in our ambulance service, our community teams and in mental health have been working extremely hard. I have been on the wards with them and seen it first hand, I am hugely grateful.

The effort has come from all over the NHS including our support services, our cleaners, porters, estates, catering, human resources and finance teams... There are too many to mention them all, but I am grateful to each and every one.

I want to emphasise that across the NHS, and here on the Island, NHS workers are being asked to work differently as we respond to Coronavirus. They are stepping up for our community. More of our staff will be asked to support our community by working differently in the coming days, please be assured we will train you and we will provide you with the Government recommended protective equipment. 

We do really need you to support us in ways that may be new to you.  People will take on new roles, many will learn new skills and like the rest of our Island population many will work from home.

But for those who we do need to come into work, we will be making staff meals and parking free to make their days just a little bit easier, recognising that many families are going to suffer financial hardship over the coming period.

But I cannot stress enough that even with all this work and all of our professionalism, we know that a surge in very unwell people is imminently coming.

There is no doubt that this is the greatest challenge that our health service has ever faced.

It is going to be very difficult but we will meet the challenge head on. By working together, looking out for one another, with kindness and compassion, we will get through this and with the support of our wonderful Island community we will get through.

The number one thing that I ask everyone to do to help us is to stay home.  Do what the Government is telling us. Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

We are hugely grateful for the flood of donations and gifts, they mean a huge amount to us. But please let us know in advance so we can manage the deliveries. Details are on our website. Please do not come to St Mary’s Hospital or Sevenacres.

If you want to volunteer there is a new national campaign launched that you can sign up to. Again the details are on our website.

I'd just like to finish by saying thank you, again.

To the NHS staff hard at work, to our colleagues in social care, at the hospice, in schools and in all of the essential roles that support our effort to fight this virus. Thank you.

And thank you to the Isle of Wight community for supporting us and for following the Government's instruction to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

 

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