24.10.2021

Hospital chief warns staff to wear correct masks

NHS England shared the full message to staff from chief executive Sarah Tedford to The Independent after reports she was blaming staff for the recent outbreak.

A hospital chief has urged doctors, nurses and other staff at a hospital hit by coronavirus not to be complacent on safety measures.

Hillingdon Hospital in north west London has been forced to close its A&E department to emergency patients this week after an outbreak of coronavirus forced 70 staff into isolation.

The A&E department is open to walk-in patients, but any emergency cases are being diverted to other hospitals across the capital.

In the letter to staff the hospital boss told workers she was “worried about you” and described the hospital as having gone through a “challenging time.”

“I haven’t forgotten the anxiety, angst and fear many of you shared with me as we went into the Covid-19 pandemic. I remember all the conversations about PPE. Did we have the right kit? Were we using it appropriately? Many of you sought me out to raise concerns about caring for Covid-19-positive patients, whilst caring for elderly relatives or young children at home.”

She said many staff had stayed in hotels to avoid infected their own families adding the most difficult part of the crisis was “seeing many of you being scared to be at work. I never thought in my 35 years in the NHS I would experience anything like that.”

On the risks to staff of spreading coronavirus she said: “So why am I worried about you? All the way through this we have followed national guidance and it has kept us safe. So what is happening now?

“I am told some of you are not wearing appropriate masks and you are not adhering to social distancing. This has resulted in an outbreak on a ward where our staff have contracted Covid-19.

“If you do not follow the guidance, we cannot keep you safe. I don’t like wearing a mask, but it would be irresponsible of me not to do so. Please think very carefully about what you are doing and ask yourselves if you are keeping yourself safe and if you are keeping each other safe? This is no time to be complacent; we are not out of the woods yet.”

She urged staff to “take responsibility for yourself and your team” and to complete a risk assessment as well as to discuss any issues with the hospital’s occupational health team.

“Has your department undertaken the environmental risk assessment? If not, ask your line manager why. These need to be done now, so that any adjustments can be made.

“The lockdown is being lifted. Please ensure we play our part in not spreading Covid-19 and leading by example.

“This is such a serious matter and at the moment I’m afraid some of us are not demonstrating the behaviour we should be. If you see someone not adhering to the guidance, please remind them of their responsibilities. We all need a little nudge at times.”

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