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Dr Karen Dunderdale

Director of Nursing, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust

Dr Karen Dunderdale is the Director of Nursing at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

By Director of Nursing, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) this month released its latest report on Lincolnshire’s hospitals, which shows widespread improvements to services and leadership.

We are so pleased with the progress that the trust has made over the past few years, particularly against the backdrop of COVID.

In the report, the CQC particularly applauded, ‘without exception, staff treated patients with compassion and kindness, respected their privacy and dignity, took account of their individual needs, and helped them understand their conditions. They provided emotional support to patients, families and carers,’ and ‘from every conversation the inspection teams had with trust staff it was clear that the patient was at the heart of their work.’

The ratings for medical care and children’s and young people’s services at Lincoln County Hospital improved from ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Good’. Children’s and young people’s services at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston went up from ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Good’. Urgent and emergency care services across the trust went up from ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Requires Improvement’ and maternity services at Pilgrim hospital went up from ‘Requires improvement’ to ‘Good’.

We are really pleased that the huge effort that everyone has put into providing and improving services, particularly over the past two years, has been recognised. The CQC has recognised the significant improvements we have made in the quality and safety of our services since the last inspection in 2019. They have commented that this was particularly impressive against the COVID backdrop. Positive comments were also made about the trust having a strong cohesive team with collective leadership at Board level.

Whilst widespread improvements had been made, we acknowledge there are still concerns regarding access and flow in the urgent and emergency department at Lincoln County Hospital. People continued to experience delays in accessing the service and receiving care promptly. Waiting times from referral to treatment and arrangements to admit, treat and discharge patients were still below national standards.

We are determined to take this feedback and make further significant improvements across the trust, for the benefit of our patients and staff.

I want to say a big thank you to all our staff and partners who have come together over the past few years to help us to improve our services for the people of Lincolnshire. There is still more to be done but we are heading in the right direction.

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By Director of Nursing, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust

Column by ULHT’s Dr Karen Dunderdale, Director of Nursing/Deputy CEO and Director of Infection Prevention and Control

The change in the weather marks the beginning of a very busy time for the NHS.

With colder temperatures comes the increase in cases of flu and norovirus, as well as COVID – which is why we all need to play our part in protecting ourselves and each other.

At this time of year norovirus, or the winter vomiting and diarrhoea bug, is common. It is highly infectious and easily spread through close contact with someone, or by touching surfaces which have germs on them or eating food prepared or handled by someone who has norovirus.

Symptoms are typically, feeling sick, diarrhoea, being sick and can be associated with a high temperature, aching arms and legs and headache. Symptoms usually start one-two days after being infected and usually you will start to feel better after two-three days. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water is the best way to stop it spreading. Alcohol hand gels do not kill norovirus.

Another infectious bug is the influenza (flu) virus. For the majority of people, flu is unpleasant but not life-threatening. However, it can be very serious for those groups at risk of developing complications including people with weakened immune systems, as well as those with underlying conditions such as liver, lung or renal disease, heart problems or diabetes and pregnant women.

Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people. You’re more likely to give it to others in the first five days. Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.
To reduce the risk of spreading flu ensure you wash your hands often with warm water and soap and use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze then bin used tissues as quickly as possible.

The flu vaccination is offered to every ULHT member of staff free of charge. Members of the public can contact their GP to find out more about how to get a flu vaccine. The vaccination is free if you are aged over 65 years, are pregnant, have a long term condition (such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease or multiple sclerosis) or are a carer.

As COVID is still with us, I would encourage those who are eligible to get the free vaccinations, and booster when they are contacted to do so. This has been a vital step for the country in the fight against COVID and in protecting ourselves and those around us.

Good hand hygiene can also help to limit the spread of infections and there are some simple steps that we can take to help stop viruses spreading. These include washing your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing food. If you’re in a hospital, pay attention to hand hygiene notices such those asking you to use alcohol-based hand rub upon entering and leaving the ward. Also continue to wear a mask whilst in NHS healthcare settings.

People worried about prolonged symptoms should contact NHS 111 or ring their GP, not visit their surgery. They will be able to provide advice for people who are at greater risk from dehydration from diarrhoea and vomiting, such as young children or the elderly.

How to practice good hand hygiene

  • Ensure you regularly use alcohol hand rub available on all wards to clean your hands, especially before touching patients
  • Wash your hands with soap and water when anyone has diarrhoea, to prevent the spread of infections such as norovirus which can be a problem during the winter months
  • If you have symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting do not visit the hospitals until you have been clear of these symptoms for at least 48 hours

Dr Karen Dunderdale is the Director of Nursing at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

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