Dear colleagues,

Despite this week’s cold snap, daylight is increasing and spring is on the way. Many of us are eagerly anticipating some easing of lockdown restrictions in the weeks ahead and the opportunities this will bring, including for children and young people to start to return to school and college.

We’re now in a period of transition from the peak of Covid cases nationally and locally, to a lengthy but consistent reduction in the prevalence of the virus in our hospitals and our communities. But while the numbers may be coming down, this doesn’t make our hospitals any less busy. In fact I know for many of you, this feels like a period where there is even more to do.

Speaking with staff, I hear that there is tiredness and real distress caused by the situation we have faced. I also hear colleagues voice their strong sense of belonging at Addenbrooke’s and The Rosie and the pride that the pandemic has reinforced. The way that you have looked after each other, met new colleagues, worked in different ways, helped out other departments and learned new things has been extraordinary. It is what has got us to where we are today, in much better shape than we may have been.

Operational status of the hospital

We currently have 110 patients with Covid-19 in the hospital, 24 of whom are in critical care. This is only slightly below the peak of the first wave of 2020, but is less than half the number of cases that we saw during the recent peak in the second half of January. We’re continuing to turn red wards back to green and close critical care beds in outlying theatre and recovery areas. These are all positive steps.

Of course, we now face a new set of challenges in balancing the continued need to care for Covid patients with the large backlog of patients requiring appointments, tests and treatment. A new phase of planning and decision-making is underway, led by a Covid Response and Recovery Group, which involves all clinical divisions and our operational teams. We will be providing you with regular updates on this as we go forward and working with individual services and teams to discuss and agree our recovery plans.

Vaccination and testing

Our vaccination hub is now closed until we begin to offer second doses, starting with the over 80s who we vaccinated in late December and then moving on to staff. It is excellent news that we got so far with this programme so quickly with our own staff and colleagues in other health and social care organisations. Approaching 90% of CUH staff have now had the first dose of the vaccine and, for those who have not, first doses remain available for the next few days at Royal Papworth Hospital. If you have concerns about having the vaccine, I would strongly encourage you to talk about these with your manager. The second doses will provide even more protection and we all look forward to the point at which the roll out of the national vaccination programme will enable at least some aspects of normal life to resume.

Even with the vaccine, it remains as important as ever to continue with our asymptomatic staff testing programme in order to protect our colleagues, our families and our patients. Details can be found on the staff portal.

Your health and wellbeing

We‘ve spoken regularly about staff health and wellbeing in staff meetings and we recognise that the varied experiences of Covid-19 in our work lives and our home lives have affected our physical and mental health in many different ways. Following the first wave of Covid last year, we ran the CUH Reflects exercise to gather staff feedback and identify key areas of learning and improvement. Among other things, this helped to inform the range of health and wellbeing support that was put in place, details of which can be accessed here through the staff portal.

We will be running a further CUH Reflects exercise at the beginning of March, with a particular focus on staff health and wellbeing. We will ask you to look back over the past few months and to identify any further areas of support which you need or would be helpful. Please do take the time individually and as teams to discuss this and to provide feedback so that we can provide the right types of support.

Finally…

You may have seen yesterday the media coverage, including on BBC national and local news, of the RECOVERY clinical trial which Addenbrooke’s has been part of. This marks a further important step in the treatment of patients with Covid-19 and is just one example of the amazing science and research which is happening in our hospitals and across the unique setting we have here on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

A year on from the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in the UK, we have all been through so much together. Each and every one of you, as a member of the CUH family, has played a vital part in the way that we have responded with professionalism, with commitment and with compassion. As we face the period ahead, I hope that we can continue to think about our own wellbeing, to ask for help and support when we need it, and to be there for each other.

On this Valentine’s weekend, a heartfelt thank you and well done.

With best wishes,
Roland