North East business leaders heard first hand accounts of how the NHS in Newcastle tackled the challenges of Covid and the lessons learnt from the rapidly-evolving crisis.
Dame Jackie Daniel, chief executive, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who began her career as a nurse almost 40 years ago, set the context for the response to the North East England Chamber of Commerce members.
She said: “We have 16,000 staff in our Trust and a strong reputation for excellence in our clinical and care treatment which was of huge importance in treating our Covid patients. The support we received from the business community, and people in our region, was also tremendous and so much appreciated at such difficult times.
“We have major health inequalities in our country with the North East particularly affected by poor life expectancy. Coming out of Covid I hope we can take the opportunity to build back better health for everyone.”
On the Chamber webinar the experience of front-line medical care staff was also laid bare. Dr Sarah Platt, director of trauma and lead consultant for critical care spoke in candid terms about the inexorable march of Covid from one patient to many hundreds in just four months.
She said: “The pandemic was a gentle but relentless growth where we knew any tiny element of complacency might kill people, some of them health workers. Our whole team from the estates staff to engineers as well as health professionals worked tirelessly to prepare for the huge numbers of patients we knew would be coming.
“As a result I’m very proud that our Trust was second in the country for Covid survival rates and that we were also able to accept patients from all over England to support colleagues outside of our region.
“We have all learnt valuable lessons from coping with this pandemic. The first one is that you need to learn to live with uncertainty. Take some perspective on the situation you are dealing with and be creative. I also learnt the value of taking time out , having courage and confidence to move forward.”
Communications was also key to successfully managing the pandemic’s demand. The Trust team was in constant dialogue with hospitals around the globe as well as in the UK, sharing vital information and advice.
The work of the hospitals is supported by Newcastle Hospitals Charity, the official Charity of the Trust and the largest healthcare Charity in the region. On the webinar charity director, Teri Bayliss, highlighted the thousands of ways local communities and companies had supported their work.
The positive contributions included everything from children’s artwork giving Thanks to the NHS in the Fenwick window, to donations and gifts of helpful products and food.
She said: “There is something very special about the North East and its level of compassion. Everyone’s kindness has made and continues to make a great impact on staff morale.
“Newcastle Hospitals Charity is supporting hospital staff and patients affected by the pandemic. If anyone would like to help the charity, please get in touch.”Corporate support leaflet Read Northern Echo article