It is common knowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic has put immense pressure on the health service across the UK, and hospitals in particular.
During the major surges in COVID-19 cases over the last year we, like lots of other hospitals, had to make some very difficult decisions to cancel some clinics, operations and procedures to safeguard our resources to care for seriously ill COVID patients. This was done in the interests of keeping our patients and staff safe.
Here in Lincolnshire, we have made every effort to continue to deliver care to everyone who needs it through this pandemic, and having planned surgery continue on the Grantham site has helped us to do this. However, there are some who have waited longer for care than they might previously have done.
Now, as the vaccination programme rolls out and we start to see some national restrictions eased, we are turning our attention to re-instating services that have been affected by COVID, and getting appointments booked in for those who have been waiting.
In United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, we are making the shift to managing COVID not as a pandemic, but as an infection which is endemic in our society. We are changing how we care for COVID patients, so that they can be cared for in just the same way as those with any other infectious disease – something we are already well-versed at doing with high standards of infection prevention and control practices.
We constantly share examples with other hospitals to ensure we are all making effective use of isolation and infection prevention and control procedures, so that all of our patients can be reassured about the safety of accessing hospital services.
I hear that there are people in our communities who are scared to go into hospital, or attend appointments, because of the risk of COVID. This saddens me, because I know that means patients who desperately need our care are not accessing it. We would be keen to talk to individuals to offer reassurance to help them access the care they need.
My job is to restore that confidence in our hospitals, and to reassure the people of Lincolnshire that our hospitals are safe environments for everyone.
I want everyone to know that they can safely use our hospitals, and should access NHS services when they need them.