23 March 2021

Reflections one year on

Reflecting on our year at UHS, interim chief executive officer David French

Along with the rest of the country, we will be taking time this week to reflect on the year we have been through. I don’t think any of us could have imagined 2020 would turn out as it did.

However, throughout that challenge I have huge pride in the UHS family for our collective and individual dedication and commitment to patients – and to each other.

The loss of life from COVID-19 has been devastating and at UHS, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone who has been affected by this tragedy, including the families of staff members we have lost along the way.

As is often the case in difficult times, exceptional people do exceptional things and that’s what we have seen time and time again over the course of this last year.

This week we are taking time to reflect on the year, what we have lost and also what we have learned.  Today our staff, like the rest of the country, are being encouraged to pause at 12pm to reflect on the year we’ve had.

Very early in the pandemic, we took a leading role in helping to inform and educate local communities on how to protect ourselves and each other.  We reinforced how we could all work together to reduce the spread of the virus through our COVID ZERO campaign.  Its aim was simple; to keep staff and patients safe by having zero transmission of COVID infection in our hospitals. We have seen that those efforts have resulted in UHS having one of the lowest spread of infection rates in Trusts across England.

Throughout the pandemic we have still managed to innovate and enhance our services, along with leading significant research projects, that are benefitting patients and staff.

We have adapted by introducing virtual clinicssupport networks and virtual visiting, opened a new cancer ward and a state of the art intensive care unit. Our clinicians have continued with their pioneering work, performing UK-first procedures in cardiology. Our link with research and innovation has never been stronger, a fact I am reminded of every time I see a colleague wearing a PeRSo hood.

A year on from the start of this pandemic I can see evidence of the impact of our collective efforts, and how we are continuing to work side by side in all that we do – despite what we have endured.

Throughout the pandemic, the outpouring of support from the public has been phenomenal and has given staff across the hospital a much-needed boost during the most difficult of times. Much of that has been channelled through our incredible Southampton Hospitals Charity which has been exceptional in supporting our staff and patients.

The vaccination roll out means we can look towards a more hopeful year ahead but we know that Covid is not over so my final message is to ask that we all keep going.

We are nearly there, but we still need to follow the guidance around washing our hands, wearing our masks and walking apart, even when we’ve had our vaccinations. We will not only be looking after each other, but helping enable health services to be restored and treat those people who are in need of our care.

Keeping the hospital Covid free means we keep ourselves and colleagues safe and allows us to restore services so we can treat the patients now in need of our care.

Once again, for everything you’ve done and continue to do – thank you.

Issued by University Hospital Southampton, 23/3/2021

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