Last year, when we wrote the introduction to our annual report, we had just entered the first national lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. We referred to this as ‘one of the most unprecedented threats to public health in the history of the NHS’ and we have now come to appreciate the scale of the impact on people and their families, on our health services, on the economy and on our way of life. It has been nothing short of challenging for each and every one of us. Health and social care services have joined forces to deliver services in the best way we can during the pandemic and the overwhelming wave of public support for NHS staff and key workers has never been more poignant, nor so appreciated.
At the initial outbreak of the pandemic our aim was wholly focused on protecting our population, our staff and our most vulnerable residents from the threat that COVID-19 represents. This led to many of our services being delivered differently through online and telephone consultations with GPs and other primary care professionals. To minimise the risk of infection, face-to-face appointments were limited, only taking place where this was absolutely necessary. Staff across the system have been asked to work differently; some have been redeployed into other roles to support the pandemic response, some have worked under extremely challenging conditions and some have faced the not insignificant difficulty of juggling home schooling and caring responsibilities while working at home.
While these changes, implemented rapidly under very pressing circumstances, represent a major departure from our business as usual, it has in fact served to accelerate some of the work we had been planning and from this situation we can see new approaches to healthcare emerging which are of significant benefit to all. Testimony must go to our staff and patients for embracing this new way of working under such adverse conditions. Equally our providers have shown great innovation in continuing to deliver services where they can, either virtually, over the telephone or by using video conferencing facilities.
The impact of the pandemic will have lasting consequences. For those worst affected there are experiences of loss, grief, enduring ill health, financial instability, diminished mental wellbeing and social isolation. Not all services have been able to continue to operate as normal and many appointments were paused where it would have been too high a risk to continue providing treatment. We also know some people have delayed seeking help, either through fear of the pandemic or by not wanting to be a burden. The result is a health and social care system facing significant waiting list backlogs and people presenting with more advanced symptoms and facing a poorer health outcome as a result.
There is a clear requirement to act. In the face of these challenges the enduring determination of staff, our communities, and our partners to keep moving forward demonstrates our capacity for resilience. Up to 31 March 2021 the national COVID-19 vaccination programme has vaccinated more than 32 million people throughout the UK with over 60 per cent of the adult population on the Fylde Coast receiving either their first or both vaccinations. This has only been made possible by the dedicated contribution of our partners and the hundreds of volunteers who have supported the programme in a variety of roles. Vaccinations are key to our continued management of the COVID-19 pandemic and all those who are eligible should attend for their vaccination when invited to do so.
We have a clear roadmap out of the current restrictions, provided the downturn continues and infection rates remains low. We are progressing to a future which will see a greater collaboration of local areas in joint commissioning of services. We will build on our strong partnerships which have become embedded as part of our crisis response. We want to continue to provide the level of service our patients have come to expect and to achieve this there are comprehensive plans for the recovery of services being developed. We also have a People Plan to support staff through the next phase of our response as they themselves recover from the unprecedented demands placed on them over the last 12 months.
The COVID-19 pandemic will be recorded in history as one of the most significant global threats of the 21st Century. We have all experienced entirely uncharted territory but the way in which people have faced the challenge is truly commendable.
It only remains to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone for their fortitude in pulling together through the pandemic. Everyone on the Fylde Coast has contributed, whether that has been helping friends, neighbours, and those around them, working hard in a key role while managing many other personal demands, or simply by observing the rules of social distancing.
This annual report has been written with patients and the public in mind. Working within the requirements of the Department of Health’s annual report and accounts guidance we have attempted to make sure this document is:
- Easy to read and understand, and
- Visually appealing.
To support this work, we engaged with our various resident and patient groups which are made up of members of the public who help to guide our work. This year, a draft of the content was shared with members of the CCG’s Influence Panel and also representatives from each of the Patient Participation Groups that work within GP practices as well as the Patient and Public Engagement and Involvement forum (PPEI).
We would welcome your feedback about this annual report so that we can make sure future editions meet your needs. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments or suggestions, or if you would like to be involved in helping to develop next year’s report.
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