Dear colleagues,

This last week has been very challenging for CUH. The strain of this wave of Covid-19 is being felt by all of us and we’re having to dig deep to keep on top of a significant rise of cases in our hospitals.

Over the last seven days I’ve seen the people who make up Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie Hospitals give their very best. This is a truly impressive place under pressure and your ability to respond, adapt, think intelligently and deliver compassionate care in conditions that are far from ideal inspires us all.

My thanks to all of you. I know you are tired. I want you to put yourself first and prioritise your own health and wellbeing as much as you can. We do not ask you to be a hero by pushing yourself to the brink. Instead, can I encourage you to see yourself as the most precious asset there is; one that needs to be carefully nurtured for the times we are in as well as the weeks and months ahead.

Rates of Covid admissions and hospital status

We currently have 243 patients with Covid-19 in our hospital and 60 of these are in intensive care. These numbers include patients transferred to us from across the region.

Last week our three-day average was 25 admissions per day. This has now fallen to 23.7 per day so we can see that after more than a week of exponential growth we appear to be in a flattening off of the curve. This is good news and a slightly better picture than we expected, however the picture is uncertain and we continue to plan for 300-500 Covid patients. We’ve opened another three Covid wards in the last week and have 89 patients in intensive care beds, which is very close to the maximum we can take and is unprecedented at Addenbrooke’s.

Our modelling team is now analysing the last few days and looking ahead to forecast when we can expect cases to start decreasing again. This will help us with our planning to have the right number of red beds open while protecting our green beds and will help us understand when the process of recovery might begin.

Operational response

My thanks to the third surge planning group and other task forces for co-ordinating and leading the operational response to the current situation. In order to provide enough acute and critical care beds for Covid patients we are having to move patients and staff around and we know this is hard.

The response to our requests for staff, including medical, nursing and AHP staff, to move into intensive care and other areas has been phenomenal. We have over 250 medical students who have volunteered and are now registered to work in our vaccination hub, wards, ED and intensive care. There are doctors who have offered to cover nursing shifts and academics who are returning to clinical work. Nurses are coming back from retirement, retraining, working nights and making huge changes to their professional lives to help us. Without this, our services would be in a very different position right now.

It is a challenge to continue providing such a large intensive care service when we also need to provide emergency care for patients without Covid and run critical services for the region’s sickest patients. We have a significantly reduced number of operating theatres running and this will cause inevitable and unfortunate delays for patients waiting for surgery. At the very earliest opportunity we will recommence operating and open additional green beds. The very careful prioritisation of patients will be a critical issue for us over the coming weeks. Thank you to the clinical staff involved in striking the balance and grappling with challenging decision-making and communication with our patients at this time.

Vaccination, testing and staff safety

We hit a major milestone this week by providing the 10,000th vaccine through our hub at the Deakin Centre. This covers 4000 over 80s and a total of 6464 healthcare workers from three NHS Trusts. We are one of the largest vaccination centres in the area and I’m hugely proud of our ability to develop this service alongside everything else we’re doing for our communities of staff, patients and the local population.

For staff there are four important ways to keep yourselves safe. Vaccination; asymptomatic testing; using PPE correctly and following the rules that keep our environment Covid-secure. If we all commit to these four safety measures, as well as of course, the basics including hydration, nutrition, sleep and taking breaks, we will be able to reduce staff absences due to sickness and isolation. This will improve daily life for all of us and help us to recover more quickly.

Finally…

We’re in a period of significant challenge with some uncertainty in terms of the care we’ll need to provide and how the pandemic will evolve. All of us are facing into this challenge, staying ahead of the curve with clear planning and looking after ourselves and colleagues. What we have delivered in the last year and over the course of this week is testament to all of you here at CUH and our partners across the sectors in Cambridge.

My thanks once again for an extraordinary week.

With best wishes,

Roland