Autumn 2020 issue
Est. Reading: 2 minutes

Final Word, Mark Lam Chair

I am almost at the end of my first six months as Chair of ELFT. 2020 was not the ideal year to start in a new role and yet I have been struck by how much I feel part of things here despite the restrictions brought about by the pandemic.

I have not visited as many of our sites or met colleagues as much as I would have liked. But I have undertaken a number of ‘virtual visits’ to services with the Trust Board and have been impressed by the rich variety of services, and the sheer passion of staff to provide good services.

This is undoubtedly the most challenging year the country has faced in decades. I have been impressed by the indomitable spirit of colleagues at ELFT who have worked tremendously hard this year. Sadly, COVID-19 has taken its toll on our local communities. It has shone a light on health inequalities, with a disproportionate impact on minority groups and also the most vulnerable in our communities. We have a role here at ELFT – indeed a moral duty – to lead on reducing health inequalities, which have no place in a civilized society. The team is working on a fresh set of strategies for integrating primary care, mental health, and community health which will go some way to achieving this.

I am proud of the Trust's stance on Black Lives Matter. Racism has no place in our Trust and we take a tough position on this. We encouraged staff to share their personal experiences in ‘Race and Privilege’ sessions – which were an emotional experience as people identified with the themes, or put themselves in the shoes of others and felt the weight of the emotions shared.  We will continue to listen, learn, and live up to our values.

This year, we bid farewell to a number of governors who stood down. Their dedication and representation of their local communities have made a massive contribution to our Trust. We also warmly welcomed a number of new governors, both from the community and from staff, who are giving their time to ensure that ELFT delivers the best services. I look forward to working with Caroline Ogunsola, a staff member and district nurse by traiing, who has been elected as our new lead governor. She steps into the shoes of out-going lead governor Zara Hosany. I am very grateful to Zara for her longstanding commitment and years of contribution as a governor.

We also said farewell to some longstanding Board directors: Mary Elford and Jenny Kay. Both have been instrumental in ELFT’s transformation and exemplify our cultures of mutual respect and compassion. We warmly welcome new Board members, Dame Professor Donna Kinnair and Richard Carr.

I have an overwhelming sense of privilege in being able to serve the people of East London, Luton, and Bedfordshire. I feel proud of the Trust, its values and its people – it feels very special and stands out in the NHS. It has been a year like no other and reminds us of what is important in life. My message to everyone and their loved ones as the year ends and another begins is - to take care and be safe.

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