This year has been unlike any other we’ve ever faced, as the pandemic has had a huge effect on all of our lives both personally and professionally and has been the biggest challenge the NHS has ever faced.
During the year, our Gateshead team has had to work extremely hard in constantly changing circumstances to continue providing the outstanding care that we are known for.
Whilst the year has been challenging professionally, it’s also affected our personal lives as we’ve negotiated a new way of living, keeping our physical distance from our loved ones and friends and putting our normal lives on hold to protect the vulnerable amongst us.
Throughout it all, our staff have been a constant source of inspiration and pride.
For example, our community staff were presented with a Blaydon Angel Award in the summer as a result of providing outstanding care for Gateshead residents during the pandemic.
Our staff’s health and wellbeing have been a priority for us during this difficult time. We have been lucky to have received charitable donations from NHS Charities and other local organisations, which have helped us to support our staff in various ways, offering counselling and other services.
One example is Project Wingman, which was introduced last year to allow the hard-working NHS staff in Gateshead the ability to enjoy a first-class airport lounge experience, courtesy of some volunteers from the airline industry.
Following its success, 22 members of the crew were successful in securing new jobs here within the trust.
We are constantly amazed by our people’s dedication, professionalism and commitment to constantly improving the care that we provide to the people who rely on us.
This is reflected by our patients too, who rate us very highly for patient care.
In the Adult Inpatient Survey, 98% of patients felt that they were treated with dignity and respect, and we scored highly in confidence and trusting the doctors, nurses, AHPs and other staff who work here.
We have also been rated as one of the best trusts in the country by patients for cancer care with a rating of 9.1 out of 10 overall.
Our staff feel the same way, with the majority of the people who work here (84%) thinking that patient care is the number one priority and 71% recommending the trust as a place to work.
Staff also endorsed the care provided; with the majority (80%) saying they would recommend Gateshead as a place to get treatment.
We have made great strides digitally. During the pandemic, we used technology to allow some of our most ill patients to keep in touch with their loved ones when we were unable to allow visitors to enter the hospital, which proved a huge boost for patients.
Over the last 18 months, 350 of our community staff have delivered high-quality, seamless, connected care with our new mobile working system; EMIS mobile and we have offered virtual appointments for patients.
Additionally, we have successfully connected to the Great North Care Record to make patient information available to frontline staff who are directly involved in patients’ care.
Our COVID vaccine programme has gone from strength to strength and working with our partners we have vaccinated the top priority groups as well as health and social care staff in Gateshead.
We’ve also contributed to global studies, with our research team recruiting over 200 participants to the study designed to find more effective treatments for Covid.
We also set up the Patient Covid Assessment Service at the start of the pandemic and since opening last March, they have carried out more than 30,000 tests.
In January, we welcomed four GP practices into the Gateshead NHS family and are looking forward to exploring new ways of working across our GP, community and acute teams to further enhance the services we offer to our patients.
Finally, we have welcomed two new executive directors to the trust. Joanne Baxter, who joined in June, is our new Chief Operating Officer, and Lisa Crichton-Jones, Executive Director of People and Organisational Development, who joined in October.
Anthony Robson, has also been appointed as the new managing director of QE Facilities.
The Gateshead NHS family has proved itself to be strong, resilient, but most importantly of all, a tightknit team where we support each other and keep each other going.
Everyone from all areas of the trust have stepped up and worked together from our frontline clinical colleagues to ward staff, community staff, our facilities colleagues through to admin and corporate services.
Each one of you has had a significant part to play and many of you have really gone beyond the call of duty.
We are in awe of what you have achieved.
Our staff are what makes Gateshead a special place to be.
And this year, our staff have been nothing short of heroic.