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Providing safe care during challenging times

The past month presented us with a series of significant challenges as we dealt with high demand and tough operational conditions.

There have also been periods of industrial action from both our junior doctors and our nursing staff, who represent a large proportion of our staff and a vital part of our organisation. Through detailed planning and teamwork, we have done our utmost to ensure we can continue treating those on our waiting lists and care for those who need us most. However, the impact of these periods of industrial action have resulted in us having to postpone certain appointments and procedures. I know these postponements are difficult, and I would like to assure everyone affected that we are doing everything we can to see you as quickly as possible.

While the Government has agreed a pay-deal for all staff on the Agenda for Change contracts – who represent a majority of our workforce – we remain vigilant and prepared for further strikes from the British Medical Association representing our junior doctors and other unions.

I would like to ask that our communities remain supportive of the NHS, continue to use our services wisely during these periods and understand that these members of staff have not undertaken industrial action with any malicious intent. The decision to take this action was not made lightly, therefore I hope you continue to support our staff and understand the reasons underpinning their difficult decision.

During these periods of industrial action, maintaining patient safety has been our top priority. It is therefore timely that May is our ‘Patient Safety Month’, where we will promote and encourage learning amongst our staff to help improve the quality and safety of the care we provide.

To improve the quality of patient safety, we will be launching our Patient Safety Incident Response Plan for 2023-24 in May, which will help create a safer culture and drive improvement. In addition, we are working with our partners to share how the learning identified during patient safety investigations is being translated into improvements in medicine safety. Dr Paul Molyneux, our medical director rightly said that “creating a patient safety culture across the Trust is at the heart of everything we do and central to our organisational culture.”

With Friday, 5 May having been the International Day of the Midwife and with Friday, 12 May being International Nurses Day, this is a time where we celebrate our colleagues who come from across the globe to join us here in the west of Suffolk. We are fortunate to have almost one in four of our colleagues originating from almost 80 different countries outside of the UK. For our nursing and midwifery colleagues, this figure equates to nearly a third, from 30 different countries.

We could not do what we do without those who make the journey and contribute a huge amount to our NHS. As an organisation, since day one, we have had the privilege of our overseas colleagues’ company and expertise. Whether this has been from the Caribbean, east and south Asia, Africa, Europe or beyond.

I hope that you will all join me in expressing our sincere gratitude for the unique and incalculable contribution they make to our NHS.

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