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Get ready like us... winter is coming

Who knew that our Trust had some similarities with the hit TV show Game of Thrones?

I confess I’ve never actually watched the show, but the kids tell me across the dinner table that, in the world of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, ‘Winter Is Coming’ is the motto of the House of Stark. The meaning behind these words is one of warning and constant vigilance. The Starks apparently strive to always be prepared for the coming of winter, which hits their lands the hardest.

Granted we have fewer swords and dragons here at the hospital, but we do share the desire to prepare for the coming of winter that, history would suggest, certainly does hit the NHS land the hardest.

This year we started our planning even earlier, way back in January in fact because it was so busy last year. We need to create some additional space if we are to cope. We need extra staff to staff that space safely. And we want to support our staff so they don’t go off sick because of the pressure or because they have caught the flu virus.

So, we are on track to open a new unit in December, which will mean that patients referred in by GPs go straight for assessment rather than waiting in A&E. We will also open our new cardiac centre at the hospital around the same time, which will mean shorter lengths of stay, but also better local care as patients will no longer have to go to Papworth for angiograms and pacemakers. But it will also free up another ward.

But we need to staff these new services. We have been trying to offer flexible roles to encourage nurses back to nursing, and been overseas to recruit nurses. And we have lots of opportunities for people to get on the nursing ladder by joining us as a nursing assistant – a role that is at the heart of patient care but for which you need absolutely no prior healthcare experience.

So if you fancy coming back to or starting a career in healthcare please come and join us. We were recently quoted as ‘arguably the best small hospital in the country’ by a national healthcare publication, and last year our staff voted us as one of the best places to work in the NHS. Nurses and nursing assistants are not only some of the most caring people I know, but some of the best leaders. If you’re keen to learn, to care, and to join the west Suffolk family, then we’d love to hear from you. Visit for more info and search west Suffolk.

We are also supporting our staff to have flu jabs to protect themselves, their patients and their colleagues. I’ve had mine this week. It really can be the difference between life and death - flu is a killer. And I would encourage all members of the public, especially if you are of an older generation, to get a flu jab. The more people jabbed means the more protection we have in our community. It’s a herd thing!

So, we getting ready for winter, but it is still going to be exceptionally busy. You really can help us by joining us, using services wisely, helping getting patients home early and getting a flu jab. If you’ve got a cough, cold or other virus, please go and see a pharmacist now rather than leaving it to get worse. If you have a loved one in hospital, please also help us to get them home when they’re ready to leave; it’s better for them to be at home than in hospital. Let’s make sure that our beds contain the 400 most unwell people in west Suffolk.

I’ll leave you with a thought that reflects the thing that keeps not just us but the whole NHS going 24/7 – the people. One of our consultants shared the following on Twitter this week, that really shows the compassion and values of the people caring for you when you come to our hospital: “Today I sang ‘Fix You’ at my best known patient’s funeral. We don’t always manage to fix people but medicine is about so much more than that. The fact that other health professionals were also there is a testament to that. Wishing this too-young lady peaceful slumbers.”

That, is the NHS. Have a good month.


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Chief executive, Steve Dunn

Chief executive, Steve Dunn