Keeping in touch during our Trust’s response to coronavirus. @LeedsandYorkPFT

A message to our staff from our Chair and Chief Exec

As we enter another week under the shadow of coronavirus, we are all getting used to cancelling plans, postponing celebrations or meetings, and rearranging them for some unspecified date in the future. Some things can, it has to be said, wait. At last week’s Board meeting we said goodbye to our longest serving Non-Executive Director, Margaret Sentamu. Margaret has been with the Trust for 6 years and in that time has championed equality and diversity and been a real ambassador for our values. She chaired the Mental Health Legislation Committee and loved getting out on service visits and spending time with staff, governors and service users. We had planned to give her a great send off, with a meal, card and collection.

The Board last week was held as a conference call, and whilst we were able to say goodbye and thank you to Margaret, and send her a gift by post, the get-together will have to wait.

At its recent meetings, the Board had started a review of our strategic plans, making sure they were on track and making adjustments in light of new policies, events or emerging challenges. This work is important, but for the time being we agreed it would be paused, or put into ‘hibernation’. The bulk of the Board meeting was taken up hearing from the Executive Directors about the huge efforts across every service in the Trust to accommodate and plan for the impact of coronavirus. We were able to ask questions and gain assurance about the work taking place. The major incident plans are in action. Operational changes such as remote working for staff who are able to do this safely are ongoing. People are being flexible, dedicated and working harder than ever to ensure our services are meeting needs in the right place, at the right time and with the right staff. On behalf of the Board and Governors, we are in awe of all you have achieved and all you still aim to achieve. Thank you.

Taking the planning theme a little further, there are some plans where the detail has been worked through, where all eventualities have been considered and yet, still we need to ask if in light of coronavirus, should they be put into action? Even with other major pressures in the system, like never before, huge effort had gone into the planned introduction of CareDirector, our new electronic patient record system. We considered many scenarios and questions. Should we delay? Should we put it off until the storm has passed? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Will it help us to improve the services we provide and how we connect with others in the NHS?

With a lot of courage, hard work, coffee and pizza, we held our nerve. CareDirector went live on Monday 30 March as planned. We did it! Too many people have been involved in this process to name them individually, but to all those staff and colleagues led by Bill Fawcett and Dr Nick Venters, we salute you! This will make such a positive difference to service users and staff.

Thank you all so much.