Reflecting on a year like no other in health and care has been a time to re-evaluate our role in supporting our local systems, partners and national NHS commissioners.
We have produced an annual report, Our COVID-19 story which shows how our team responded to the pandemic and quickly adapted to provide support where it was most needed.
It encapsulates the agility and flexibility that we have as an Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) to redeploy our team and resources, with the support of commissioners as we paused some of our programmes.
Other programmes became even more urgent – such as introducing best-practice tracheostomy toolkits to help staff new to caring for critically ill patients; or training care home staff in recognising the signs of deterioration.
I could also see at first hand the pressures on primary care and the impact on patients as I continued to work as a GP in an out of hours service in Wirral. Rapidly implementing a total triage model coupled to digital access was a massive service change.
We are busier than ever in primary care and while I can see there have been some difficulties with access, it’s important now that we harness the best parts of this new way of working for the future. This is particularly important as we deal with the backlog of care for long term conditions while still providing immediate access for urgent needs.
As time went on, our important programmes were brought back on stream and successfully delivered, despite the challenges of remote working combined with acute pressures on our NHS and care partners.
I am extremely proud of our staff for doing what was necessary to help – being redeployed to local or national teams; forging alliances to handle the deluge of offers from our business community which were overwhelming local trusts; rolling up their sleeves to make deliveries of essential supplies; or simply looking after each other.
Throughout the bleakest of times our staff supported each other, external colleagues – and in many cases, their local communities. I am proud of each and every one of our team and I extend my grateful thanks to them all.
A selection of highlights of the year are listed below; do download the annual report to read more.
Our COVID-19 story highlights and chapters
- Highlightspage 4
- First wave responsepage 6
- PPE offers filtered and redirectedpage 9We provided a triage service to filter and direct offers from suppliers of PPE and other vital products
- Learning and leadershippage 12
- Programmes we ramped uppage 17
- National tracheostomy care toolkitpage 18We helped to develop the national Safe Tracheostomy Care programme and toolkit – now used by 92 per cent of acute hospitals in England
- Remote monitoring for COVID-19 patientspage 20We helped to roll out COVID Oximetry @Home and COVID Virtual Ward
- Supporting care homespage 22
- Training for care home staff page 23We delivered training and a toolkit in spotting early warning signs of deterioration to hundreds of care home staff
- Restartpage 26
- In spite of Covid-19page 28
- Increasing smoke-free pregnanciespage 29We helped to reduce the number of mothers registered as smokers at the time of giving birth in Blackpool, from 30 to 20 per cent
- Trailblazing new psychology career routepage 30We led a project to create 50 new psychology trainee posts with £1.3m from Health Education England
- System partnershipspage 33
- Economic growthpage 36
- Economic growthpage 36We helped secure £35.3m investment; 112 new jobs; supported 389 companies – an increase on the previous year
- Spread of innovationspage 40