As Christmas approaches, I want to share my personal thanks and express my gratitude, to each and every one of you, for the huge efforts you make every single day on behalf of our patients.
This is a time of year when the pressures on our health and care system are at their greatest and the demands on local services, and on your ow n working lives, can seem relentless. Over the festivities and throughout the winter, we will continue to see those who are at their most vulnerable. Families will be welcoming new additions, many may be preparing to say goodbye to loved ones, and more frail elderly people than ever before will need our care, compassion and support.
This week sees me and my Executive Team colleagues visiting all corners of our Chester and Ellesmere Port hospitals for the Christmas tradition known annually as ‘the chocolate run’.
I appreciate the gesture of a box of chocolates is a small one, but please know this comes with deepest gratitude for everything you do for our patients and each other. This really is a special place, and we all have a role to play in protecting and preserving our Countess community.
I know this can sometimes be hard, especially in the face of so much campaigning, rumour and speculation about the NHS both locally and nationally. Ward managers have their nursing staff asking if they need to start looking for another job, as the hospital might be closing. A colleague returned home from work last week to find their daughter worried about their job security, after answering the front door and being asked to sign a petition to save the hospital. At the same time our fundraising team say it is difficult to secure the usual Christmas donations because members of the public are concerned that the future of the hospital is not certain.
While on the one hand it is reassuring to know that this hospital is valued so highly by its local community and we do all agree that The Countess Counts, my worry is the continued commentary is unhelpful and proving damaging.
As we get ready for 2017, please know there are shortages of nursing and medical staff. If you are happy here at The Countess, don’t look for jobs elsewhere. We want you very much to be part of our future. Once again, I must stress The Countess of Chester hospital is not under threat of closure. We do not plan to shut this site or build a new hospital in Ellesmere Port.
The next 12 months will no doubt be another challenging year as demand and expectations of our NHS grows. I am confident, however, with your energy and commitment to patient care that we will continue to meet these challenges head on. We must carry on striving for excellence in everything we do and this is always best achieved by working together and supporting each other wholeheartedly as we look to the future.
I am clear this hospital has a future and those choosing to work here have rewarding NHS careers ahead. In fact our plans for next year are even more ambitious and innovative. We will see significant investment in our infrastructure as we implement new technology that tracks patients and equipment to support more efficient ways of working. As The Babygrow Appeal draws to a close, work will begin on developing new neonatal facilities at our Chester site. At the same time we will move forward with plans to refurbish our main operating theatres, invest in new MRI and CT scanners and explore how our Emergency Department can be reconfigured. There is so much to keep us busy and focussed.
And so my wish for this Christmas is that we keep ourselves grounded in these facts and maintain a sense of optimism for the New Year. We can all look forward to contributing to the continued success of our hospitals for the people of Cheshire and North Wales who depend on our care, treatment and services.
If I don’t see you as part of my walkabouts this week and next, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for everything you do for The Countess at Christmas and all year round. I wish you and your loved ones good health and happiness for the festive holiday period and for 2017.
With best wishes, Tony Chambers