Staff win praise for dedication

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HOSPITAL staff have been praised by health chiefs for their dedication through the winter cold snap.

A meeting of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust board of directors heard that some staff had stayed over at hospital to ensure they could be in work despite extreme weather conditions and treacherous roads.

The trust, which covers the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road, and the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, saw an increase of 242 more emergency admissions in the three-month winter period compared to the year before.

Staff at the two sites were faced with added pressures of an increase of flu patients, as well as patients who had suffered falls on icy paths, increased pressure on critical care services and an influx of patients from neighbouring hospital trusts struggling to cope with the winter workload.

Julie Gillon, the trust’s director of clinical services and compliance, told the meeting, held at the Stockton facility, the trust had seen “the worst winter on record”.

She said around 50 per cent of healthcare staff had complied with immunising themselves against “added pressures of influenza-type illnesses in the community” and there had been minimal cancellation of scheduled operations.

Ms Gillon added: “Key managers and clinicians have been seen visibly in the organisation making quick decisions and encouraging resilience.

“It has been an unprecedented year.”

She asked the board to note the current position regarding seasonal pressures and to acknowledge the dedication of staff.

Carole Langrick, the trust’s director of strategic development and deputy chief executive, said the trust’s work over the winter had been publicly commended during a meeting of Stockton’s health-and-well-being partnership.

“There has been minimum disruption in terms of admissions compared to other trusts in the area,” she added.

Board chairman Paul Garvin said: “I would like to praise the staff, many of whom slept over in wards because of difficulties getting home and back again.

“They really stepped up to the plate and did a fantastic job for all our people.”

“There has been much press coverage about trusts cancelling elective operations nationally.

“But I think the level of grip and the level of plan that has been put into action has been absolutely first-class and we have managed an awful lot of people coming in.

“There have been people turned away from GPs and presenting themselves to A&E when they really should be dealt with by GPs or out-of-hours services or other hospitals.

“I think the response has been absolutely first-class.”

Trust chief executive Alan Foster said: “I would like to thank staff for all their efforts.

“It has been a tremendous effort.”