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To: all health and care staff across Norfolk and Waveney

We would like to start by saying a huge thank you to each and every one of you for working so hard to provide care and support to our communities. Whether you are working on the front line or working in a role to support front line services, please be assured that we wholeheartedly appreciate all of your contributions to care.

We are experiencing unprecedented pressures and we know that everyone is working under very difficult circumstances and at times, in ways that we would not normally ask of you. We value your amazing response and we recognise that the current situation is really challenging.

You will be aware that we continue to respond to a national level four incident, which is the highest level of incident which the NHS as an organisation and/or system can operate in. This comes as a result of the unprecedented demand on services, and pressures on staffing levels. This has been made worse by the impact of COVID-19 on our workforce and communities putting continued pressure on services and individuals.

As a whole system, we are of course working together at pace, to do whatever we can to move out of the critical incident we are working in. Progress has been made and we thank you for your collective ideas and suggestions. Despite plans to move out of a critical incident, it is fair to recognise that, mirroring the wider NHS, it is likely that we will continue to be under significant pressure for the weeks and months ahead. We will continue to we work together to recover from events over recent weeks, and also the last 22 months since the start of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

It is important to recognise pressures in all parts of the system, including mental health services, the voluntary community and social enterprise sector, domiciliary care and more.  It isn't all about the NHS; we are committed to supporting staff across the whole range of services that support the health and care of our communities.

With that in mind we want to acknowledge that you are, at times working when you are short staffed, have higher numbers of patients or clients to look after, working in areas of specialty outside of your area of practice and in some situations, professionals may need to depart from established procedures to care for people in these highly challenging but time bound circumstances. We know that this can cause a higher level of risk for health and care professionals who are having to rely more on their own independent professional judgement to make difficult decisions.

We recognise that your professional focus is the safety of the people you are caring for and your teams, and we know you will continue to work with your colleagues and employers to raise issues and suggest improvements using your professional judgement to continually assess and reassess risks. We also understand why you may feel anxious about how the consequences of difficult decisions made in challenging circumstances may affect you and your staff, particularly if ultimately, there is a poor outcome.

Professional bodies, unions and regulators are aware of these concerns and issues and are specifically providing information to reassure members that any complaints will be considered carefully taking into consideration the context and specific circumstances that occurred under these current conditions.    

The health and care leadership team in Norfolk and Waveney is immensely proud of you, and we want to be clear that you have our full support when working for the needs of the system, patient safety and safeguarding of people.

Finally, we continue to be amazed and enormously grateful for your continued focus, drive and commitment to providing care for people who need it the most. Whatever your role, wherever you work, your ongoing focus is and will always be recognised. Our work, together, will always be valued by patients and the communities we serve.

With best wishes and continued thanks.

  • Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive-designate, Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board
  • James Bullion, Executive Director of Adult Social Care, Norfolk County Council
  • Stephen Collman, Chief Executive, Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust
  • Sue Cook, Executive Director of People Services, Suffolk County Council
  • Dr Ed Garratt, Interim Accountable Officer, NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Sam Higginson, Chief Executive, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Anna Hills, Chief Executive, James Paget University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Ian Hutchison, Chief Executive, East Coast Community Healthcare CIC
  • Stuart Keeble, Director of Public Health, Suffolk County Council
  • Stuart Richardson, Chief Executive, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust
  • Caroline Shaw, Chief Executive, Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Louise Smith, Director of Public Health, Norfolk County Council
  • Sara Tough, Executive Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Norfolk County Council

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