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Update from Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive

Update from Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive
05 January 2021

Listen to Maggie Oldham providing an update on IW Radio earlier today

Firstly, I want to thank the Island community for their continued support and for the way they have responded to the challenges of the last year.

The new lockdown makes it clear just how dangerous this virus is. The way the new variant of COVID-19 has spread since it emerged before Christmas has put real strain on health services across the country.

Tough new measures to get that spread under control, although difficult for so many people, are absolutely necessary to protect people and to save lives.

I have one message to our community. We need you now more than ever.

We need you to stay at home and to follow these new restrictions so that we can get this virus under control.

Make no mistake. The situation is very serious.

There has been a large increase in the number of positive test results in recent days which shows the scale of the challenge.

Yesterday there were 282 new cases and the day before 459.

These aren’t just numbers, they are people who are becoming increasingly unwell and many of them are needing NHS care, with more and more coming into hospital.

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 changes all the time. Yesterday we had 51 people with coronavirus in our care and we are treating another 9 people suspected to have the virus because of their clinical symptoms. We also have in excess of 40 staff affected.

Sadly, despite the very best efforts of skilled and caring clinicians the number of islanders dying continues to rise - and because of the time it takes for the disease to progress, we expect the number of deaths to continue to increase over the coming weeks.

It will take time for the new lockdown to have an impact on the number of new positive cases, and for the number of positive inpatients to fall.

I welcome the decision to introduce tougher restrictions because it gives us all a very clear message about what is needed to get this virus under control.

But even with all of your help things in the NHS look set to be difficult for some time yet.

We have been getting ready for this increase in pressure.

We have expanded our intensive care capacity, opened more beds throughout the hospital and created additional isolation areas.

Many people cancelled their leave over Christmas and New Year to make sure these changes happened and that we continued to provide safe, compassionate care.

We have had to postpone non-urgent surgery again - a very difficult decision because we know the impact on people who are waiting for their treatment.

Emergency and cancer surgery continues but we have had to make changes to our outpatient appointments to free up clinicians and space for additional beds.

We are doing everything we can. Now we need your help.

By reducing the amount of contact we have with others you can help stop the huge rise in cases that we are seeing.

We all need to take personal responsibility for our actions.

It is so easy to spread this new variant of the virus without even knowing that you have it.

We know that 1 in 3 people don’t display any symptoms at all so reducing the contacts we have will reduce the risk that the virus is passed on to someone that will become very unwell or who will die.

We must stay at home.

This isn’t just about protecting the NHS any more. It is about protecting yourselves, your loved ones and our community.

Please do not listen to those people who are deliberately showing division online. Ignore the trolls and the COVID deniers.

Instead please play your part in keeping the island safe.

This disease is real, it can be deadly and it is spreading very quickly.

But there is hope.

Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic.

An effective vaccine is the best way to protect people from coronavirus.

The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is rolling out the vaccine to our community and the Trust is gearing up to launch as a vaccine hub in the coming days, providing vaccinations to all NHS and social care staff on the island.

This will be a marathon, not a sprint, and we cannot let our guard down for a moment.

We must all follow the rules to stop the spread of coronavirus.

I know how hard this is - I’ve been separated from my family, my daughters and grandchildren for much of the last year - I know the pain that lockdowns cause.

But together we can get through the difficult weeks ahead. Together we will get this virus under control and start to reclaim our lives and livelihoods.


Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive
Isle of Wight NHS Trust

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