Thank you
Thank you to everyone who spent time away from their families during the festive period to continue to look after our patients.

Operational update
Ward D5 was emptied over the weekend in preparation to become our next Red Covid ward. We are currently assessing the requirements for our capacity configuration to meet the demands of our Covid and non-Covid patients. Significant work was undertaken at the end of last week and over the weekend.

Our thanks especially to wards J3, L5, M5, D9, D8 and D5 who worked at pace to manage multiple bed moves. Of course many teams across the hospital were involved to ensure these moves were completed safely. Our thanks goes to all. There will of course be more moves and ward changes to come as we continue to adapt our capacity. We will ensure these plans are communicated once they are finalised.

Incident status update
We are currently caring for 157 patients with Covid-19. 36 of these patients are in critical care and 121 are on our inpatient wards. There are 20 inpatients waiting for Covid-19 test results.

Vaccinating our staff against Covid-19
As you will be aware, we have been vaccinating patients aged 80 and over, care home workers and a small number of healthcare workers over recent weeks. The parameters for who we have been able to vaccinate has been tightly controlled. We are delighted to now be in a position to change the programme to focus on vaccinating our staff against Covid-19. Our team are working on rapidly changing the bookings pathways, volumes that we can vaccinate and clinic setup to enable this to happen. We are expecting the programme to be open to more staff groups from this weekend. Between now and the weekend the programme team will work with divisional teams to identify and vaccinate staff in high risk groups (clinically extremely vulnerable) and those who are working in high risk areas.

Further communications will be issued over the next few days regarding the wider vaccination roll out for staff and how you can book your vaccination.

It is not feasible for the vaccination programme to be a drop-in clinic service, please do not attend the Deakin Centre without a prearranged appointment. Thank you for your understanding. Thank you also to the programme team for working at pace to ensure access for and safety of, our staff.

Please be assured of our commitment to focus on the vaccination of NHS staff at pace.

Asymptomatic testing programme
The asymptomatic programme remains open for any staff working on site who have not yet joined. Swabs should be submitted weekly, other than for staff who work on red wards or the following wards which have particularly vulnerable patient groups: F5, G5, C2, C9, D9 C10, D10, haematology day unit and oncology day unit, who are asked to test twice a week.

Please specify when requesting a swab pack if you are in a group asked to swab twice a week.

Visit the staff portal for more information.

Do you use the NHS Covid-19 app?
If so, please remember it should be switched off on arrival at work. This will prevent unnecessary self-isolation relating to contact with Covid-19 at work. Occupational Health will undertake contact tracing for possible exposures at work and are able to take into account when appropriate PPE has been worn.

Guidance for staff living in tier 4 areas – advice for clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) staff
At the end of the national restrictions from 05 November–02 December 2020, the Government gave the following advice to people in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) group “If you cannot work from home, you can still go to work in all tiers.”

This remains the advice for people living in tiers 1, 2 or 3 but additional guidance has been issued for tier 4. It states that “This group of the most vulnerable is strongly advised to stay at home at all times, unless for exercise or medical appointments, and not to attend work, even if they are unable to work from home.”

We advise any staff member who is in the CEV and/or red risk group and lives in a tier 4 area to contact their manager to update their individual risk assessment and working arrangements accordingly. We apply this guidance to staff who have been officially notified that they are in the CEV group or have been assessed using the CUH risk assessment (Version 5 and 6) to be in the red risk group.

As was the case during the restrictions in November, there may be some people in this group who would prefer to remain working on site and feel comfortable to do so.

As long as the risk is not extremely high (as determined by risk assessment), individual members of staff who are currently in the ‘Red’ risk group are able to make a request to their line manager to continue working on site. Each case must be considered on its individual merit and provided that the risk is reduced to as low as reasonably practicable, this may be mutually agreed by the individual staff member and their line manager.

If staff in the CEV or ‘Red’ risk group wish to continue to attend the workplace it is essential that a further assessment of the risks takes place, acknowledging the updated government advice in the context of increasing Covid-19 infection rates. Subsequent discussion between the individual staff member and their line manager should take place agreeing what measures can be taken to minimise risk and that both are comfortable with the decision.

A form can be found here to complete in discussion between staff members requesting to remain in the workplace and their line manager, detailing risks, mitigation and agreed control measures to be implemented. A copy of the completed and signed form must be placed on the personal file of the individual staff member.

If when completing the form you require additional input from occupational health this can be requested via the referral form found in the appendices of version 6 of the individual staff health risk assessment.

Please note that the request to remain in the workplace must be made by the employee and no pressure from managers or anyone else should be applied. This is in line with our Trust values and keeping staff safe and well. Advice and support at this difficult time remains available to both individual members of staff and line managers from the divisional heads of workforce and medical staffing.

If you have private life insurance/critical illness cover, you may wish to speak with your provider prior to making your decision to return.

Advice for other staff groups: To help contain the virus, everyone who can work effectively from home should do so. Where staff are unable to work from home they can continue to travel to their workplace.

Portable imaging for Covid patients
Our Imaging team are experiencing huge demand due to the impact of the Covid-19 positive patients across the Trust, particularly at night.

It is taking the team longer to respond to requests for portable X-rays. We are increasing the number of staff based in the Emergency Department X-Ray from next week, covering ED, wards and theatres.

Please be patient while additional resource is put in place.

Childcare advice for staff when schools return

The latest NHS Employers Bulletin (21 December 2020) provided information for parents that states that secondary schools in England will have access to additional Covid-19 testing from 04 January, which may mean a delay for some pupils returning to school.

We understand that staff will be concerned about the uncertainty for schools returning in January 2021. Whilst the NHS bulletin focuses on secondary school children, there may be other factors that impact on younger children and we are keen to remind staff about advice provided on the staff portal which covers a wide range of child/elder care circumstances and support available.

We urge you to think about the possible impact this may have on yourself or those you line manage and start to plan for such eventualities such as delays in children returning to school.

Death of a member of the CUH family

After 18 months of treatment for cancer, Dr Johann Visser died peacefully at home on 20 December.

The hospital flag has been lowered today as a mark of respect. Johann was not only an international expert in the treatment of the rare condition of Histiocytosis, nor was he just a skilled teacher and outstanding mentor of junior and other colleagues. For the many colleagues who knew him, he was, above all, an inspirationally kind man who brought this kindness into all of his work; he will be deeply missed by his colleagues and patients.

Our sincere condolences are extended to Johann’s family at this time.

08:27 – join via Zoom or Facebook
The 08:27 takes place each Tuesday morning and provides the latest updates and opportunity to ask questions. You can now join via Zoom using the link below or watch via Facebook in the staff group. Recordings are also added to the staff portal following the meeting.

Join via Zoom here using passcode: 638644