Like everyone else, I am heartened to see the country returning to normal with services opening up and people being able to come together in groups again, albeit, limited for the moment. We, of course, have to approach this cautiously, not least given the continued presence of the threat of new variants of COVID. Clusters of new variants have been reported so we have to take a measured approach as we go forward. Whilst we do so, I know that we will all be thinking of countries around the world that are currently experiencing waves of COVID and the impact that this is having for people in those countries and their family members here in the UK.
We have learnt a great deal about new ways of working during the pandemic and will want to apply that learning going forward. An example of this is the way technology is helping us to do things smarter and add value whilst also reducing costs, reducing our carbon footprint and being kinder to the planet. In Newham, people can queue at home for their blood test using our electronic queuing system; four of our services are trialling Chatbots as an additional way for service users to communicate with their team; and we can now monitor our patient's heart rate (ECG) using a hand-held device that transfers the reading to their health records.
Dying Matters Awareness Week happened in early May. We have a feature on grief, bereavement and the importance of advance planning - to know what someone's wishes are before and after death. COVID has shown us that you sometimes don't get much warning when the end-of-life approaches, and that we need be brave and talk to each other about choices and preferences.
Our Mental Health Transformation Programme is starting to show real change in the experiences of people with mental illness. We have an interview with the new Programme Director Viral Kantaria about this radical new approach to helping people get back on track and addressing background issues and strengthening support for them. Additionally, we have collaborated with London Ambulance Service and East of England Ambulance Service to give them access to patient's mental health crisis plans. This means that if called, the ambulance team can follow the agreed plan to get the individual to appropriate care and support quicker.
You will see that amidst all the pressure staff have been under, we have been shortlisted for no less than nine national awards. We wish the relevant teams the best of luck as these award ceremonies take place. But they are already winners in our eyes.
Finally, you will see that there is an interview with ... ahem, the new Chief Executive of the Trust - myself. Since the last issue of Trusttalk, I have been formally appointed as the Chief Executive. Our Head of Communication has put me in the spotlight to share some of my thoughts and aspirations. I feel incredibly honoured and proud to lead an organisation like ELFT and I look forward to working with our staff, service users, carers, governors and partners in the next phase of the Trust development.
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