Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive of Isle of Wight NHS Trust shares this open letter, in her own words. Ed
Thank you all so very much for the amazing support that you have shown to us and to our health and social care partners during 2020.
The challenges we have faced as a community have been huge and we cannot underestimate the impact that Coronavirus (Covid-19) has had and will continue to have.
Whether you have lost a loved one, worked on the frontline throughout or been shielding at home – we have all experienced the anxiety and strain of the pandemic.
We have found a way through
Yet our community has been so strong in the face of Covid-19. Together we have found a way through – we have led the way with the first Covid-19 App, kept cases low on the Island and protected the most vulnerable among us.
The Christmas we all wanted to see has ebbed away as the new variant took hold and we are faced with tougher Tier 3 restrictions from Boxing Day.
Cases locally are rising and we know from earlier in the pandemic that it is only a matter of time before we see an increase in admissions to hospital. This of course all coincides with the pressures of winter.
The key to our response so far has been the support of our community and partners and the dedication of our staff.
You stood on doorsteps in your thousands and clapped for the NHS and key workers, you donated food, gifts and money to our charity and crucially you have diligently followed the Government guidance.
Dig deep and go again
We ask you now to dig deep and go again. We need you to help us continue to fight against this virus. What we need from you now is not clapping or donations. What we need is for you to act as though you and the people you might meet have COVID-19.
Wash your hands, cover your face and keep your distance from people.
The thousands of people that make up Isle of Wight NHS Trust, our staff and volunteers, will be here for you if you need us. Our teams are working flat out, as they have throughout the pandemic, to provide safe and compassionate care. To deal with the impact of the coming surge in COVID-19 cases and winter pressures we really need your help.
Follow the guidance
Please follow the Tier 3 guidance to the letter and keep yourself, your loved ones and our community safe. Ask your friends and family to do the same because we all have a part to play. We should all maintain good hand hygiene, wear face coverings and practice social distancing.
You can also help by making sure that you are accessing the right services. You should call NHS 111 first before coming to the hospital and they will help you get the right support, whether that’s from your local pharmacist, GP, our Urgent Treatment Centre or A&E. If it is a life-threatening emergency please call 999.
Social contact is driving the spread of the virus
We know how very difficult these new restrictions will be for us all but there is clear evidence that social contact, particularly in people’s homes, is driving the spread of the virus.
There is significant risk for our community if people start mixing freely over the coming days. I urge you all to have a careful Christmas.
Sadly this disease is proving devastatingly consistent. More social contact leads to rising cases, which leads to more hospital admissions and tragically, more people dying. We should take this very seriously but we should not give up hope.
By working together and supporting one another we will get through this. With the start of a mass vaccination programme we can see a way out of the restrictions that have so impacted our lives.
I am proud to be part of this Trust and part of this community and I know that we will rise to the challenges ahead of us.
Have a safe and happy Christmas, Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive