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Addenbrooke’s staff ‘tired, distressed but proud of work’ as hospital moves past Covid-19 peak

Staff at Addenbrooke’s are facing “tiredness and real distress” after nearly a year of battling Covid-19, according to Cambridge University Hospitals chief executive Roland Sinker.

The hospital had 84 patients with the virus on its wards on Monday (February 15), including 24 in critical care – only just below the peak of the first wave in 2020.

Roland Sinker, chief executive of the Cambridge University Hospitals, pictured before the pandemic. Picture: Keith Heppell
Roland Sinker, chief executive of the Cambridge University Hospitals, pictured before the pandemic. Picture: Keith Heppell

It was, however, fewer than half the number of cases seen in the recent peak of the second half of January.

“We’re continuing to turn red wards back to green and close critical care beds in outlying theatre and recovery areas. These are all positive steps,” said Mr Sinker.

“We’re now in a period of transition from the peak of Covid cases nationally and locally, to a lengthy but consistent reduction in the prevalence of the virus in our hospitals and our communities,” said Mr Sinker. “But while the numbers may be coming down, this doesn’t make our hospitals any less busy.”

While the situation has placed a huge burden on staff, he had also heard colleagues “voice their strong sense of belonging at Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie and the pride that the pandemic has reinforced”.

“The way they have looked after each other, met new colleagues, worked in different ways, helped out other departments and learned new things has been extraordinary. It is what has got us to where we are today, in much better shape than we may have been,” said Mr Sinker.

“Of course, we now face a new set of challenges in balancing the continued need to care for Covid patients with the large backlog of patients requiring appointments, tests and treatment.

“A new phase of planning and decision-making is under way, led by a Covid response and recovery group, which involves all clinical divisions and our operational teams.

“We will be providing regular updates on this as we go forward and working with individual services and teams to discuss and agree our recovery plans.”

Addenbrooke’s Hospital Picture: Keith Heppell
Addenbrooke’s Hospital Picture: Keith Heppell

Meanwhile, Addenbrooke’s has closed its vaccination hub until it begins to offer second doses, starting with the over-80s vaccinated in late December, before moving on to staff.

“It is excellent news that we got so far with this programme so quickly with our own staff and colleagues in other health and social care organisations,” said Mr Sinker.

“Approaching 90 per cent of CUH staff have now had the first dose of the vaccine and, for those who have not, first doses remain available for the next few days at Royal Papworth Hospital. The second doses will provide even more protection and we all look forward to the point at which the roll out of the national vaccination programme will enable at least some aspects of normal life to resume.

“Even with the vaccine, it remains as important as ever to continue with our asymptomatic staff testing programme in order to protect our colleagues, our families and our patients.”

The hospital will also be running its second CUH Reflects exercise at the beginning of March, which will gather feedback to help focus on staff health and wellbeing.

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