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A message from your local NHS to mark the anniversary of the first Coronavirus lockdown

23rd March 2021 | By Liz McCann | Posted in

Dear friends of the NHS,

This time last year the country entered its first lockdown as the severity of the Coronavirus threat began to emerge. Little did we know just how challenging the following 12 months would be for all of us.

By this point in 2020 we had already seen our first local cases and, very sadly, our first death. During the year that has followed our hospitals have cared for many thousands of patients who tested positive for the disease. Tragically, more than 2,000 loved ones and colleagues have lost their lives. Like you, we mourn for them every day.

Throughout the many difficult days we’ve been sustained by the tremendous support for the NHS from people across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. We have been moved week after week by your kindness, generosity and understanding.

We’re also indebted, as we know you are, for the magnificent job being undertaken by NHS and partner organisation staff working across all of our hospitals and services to put patients and their care first through one of the most challenging periods in our history.

This includes frontline staff working under tremendous pressure to care for patients and all those working to support them. As we reflect on this sombre milestone we’re sure you will want to join us in thanking all of them for their tremendous courage, dedication and compassion.

As challenging and difficult responding to the pandemic has inevitably been, there have also been moments of hope and optimism. This has included the way services have adapted so they can continue to meet the needs of patients and their families, including illnesses and conditions other than Covid-19, wherever possible.

For example, we’ve used technology to deliver more than 50% of outpatient appointments for both physical and mental health remotely, with patients only having to come to a hospital or other locations if absolutely necessary. Technology has been adapted too to help keep patients in hospital connected with those they cherish the most.

Meanwhile, more than 120 GP practices have stayed open throughout the pandemic to provide care to their patients – delivering more than 6,000,000 appointments of which two thirds have been provided face-to-face.

And we’re proud to say Leicester has made a significant contribution in ground-breaking COVID-19 research too, thanks to amazing contributions from local scientists, doctors, research nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and support staff. Together they have recruited and looked after more than 30,000 volunteers, patients and healthcare professionals to better understand, prevent, manage and treat the disease. Their work has had national and international acclaim.

Throughout this challenging last year, your mental health has also been at the forefront of our mind. We have introduced a new urgent mental health care hub and a central access point telephone line for urgent mental health needs. Please remember that help is available if you need it.

While the pandemic is not yet over we are beginning the process of recovery of our services and planning for the future.

As we do this we know there will be many people who have had to wait longer than we would want to receive the care and treatment they have needed. As leaders of the local NHS we’re committed to working together, as we have throughout the pandemic, to recover all of our services as quickly and safely as possible – as well as addressing the many health inequalities that have been so exposed by Coronavirus.

In the meantime we’re continuing to focus on the roll out of the vaccination programme, which has undoubtedly been the highlight of the last year.

When you are offered the vaccine please do take it up. Having witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of the virus, the vaccination programme offers us the best hope of returning to relatively normal life. We’re aware there is a lot of misinformation about the vaccine, so please only use trusted sources, such as the NHS, for the information to help you make up your mind.

Thank you for your support. Continue to follow the local restrictions. And please take up the offer of the vaccine when it is offered.

Andy Williams, Chief Executive Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Groups

Angela Hillery, Chief Executive Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust

Rebecca Brown, Acting Chief Executive University Hospitals of  Leicester NHS Trust

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