Tackling growing waiting lists and making sure staff are given a chance to relax will be the priorities after coronavirus, says NHS Tayside.
At a meeting of the NHS Tayside Board this week, chief executive Grant Archibald set out some of the plans for how to remobilise health services in the region once coronavirus is over.
‘How do we go back to business as normal?’ asks top health boss
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Archibald said: “The plans for the future are all changing as a result of Covid-19.
“This is a universal challenge all over the world, all sorts of organisations are having to rethink what the next 12 to 36 months might look like.
“We did a remobilisation plan last year following wave one of Covid-19 and have been asked to do that again following the same system.
“Children are still being born, there are still road traffic accidents and people with trauma, there are still people waiting to be followed up, and there are still people with chronic conditions such as dialysis.
“All of this had to go on, but we suspended some of our elective programmes, such as operations on hips and knees.
“But how do we get back to business as normal and deal with those who have waited longer now?
“While someone could wait for their hip to be fixed, we still need to get to those people.
“In addition there has been concern expressed throughout that the mental health of the population has generally been affected by isolation, not being able to grieve properly, and not being able to visit relatives in care homes.
“All these challenges are there and our plan must lay out how we will remobilise and get back to business as usual.”
Board members also discussed the use of remote digital outpatient appointments beyond the pandemic.
The digital appointments, called ‘Near Me’, have proven a success during lockdown and board members were told there was a high satisfaction rate with both patients and clinicians.
Giving staff a break after the pandemic is an “essential part” of remobilisation
Making sure staff are given a well-deserved break once the pandemic is over will also be another major part of the health board’s remobilisation plans.
At the meeting on Thursday, Peter Drury, a non-executive member of the NHS Tayside board, asked: “I have heard about the fantastic effort of staff, they must be exhausted.
“In going back to normal, what provision is there for staff to have a good break?”
Mr Archibald reassured Mr Drury this was a key part of the remobilisation plan.
He said: “There should be some form of pause between coming out of Covid-19 and starting again.
“This is a challenge we have articulated and needs to be managed carefully.
“But lots of people have not had the leave they should have had, and lots have been working incredibly long hours and that is challenging.
“In our plan there shall be a need for a period of regrouping to allow people to catch their breath, because this has been difficult.
“We are on 339 days now and that is a long time, it is nearly a year.
“We are building in how we allow staff to have down time and the break they need before starting the next challenge – it is an essential part of our narrative.”