'The Way I See It'....


Monthly update from Chief Executive, Dr Michael McBride

‘Just three weeks have passed since my last message in December, and what a three weeks it has been!

‘What did you learn over Christmas? I learned the true spirit of Christmas. I witnessed this in all the staff I met and in all that I observed. I had the privilege of meeting a great number of you over the holiday period, all working with heart, minds and hands to keep the wheels of the organisation turning. All ensuring the very vulnerable in our hospitals and our communities were cared for and kept safe.

‘I met many staff who had left small children at home, knowing they would not be there to see their eyes light up when they opened their presents on Christmas morning; the member of staff in the Royal Jubilee Maternity Service who told me of her 5 year-old ringing to relay what Santa had left; those who would have Christmas lunch with their families in a few days’ time because it was ‘their turn’ to work Christmas this year, and many who chose to work over the festive period to give others in their team the opportunity to have a break with the family. Overall, I met people who I am immensely proud to call my fellow ‘care-givers’; and I met them in a variety of roles, everywhere on every site, in acute and community care.

‘Very quickly the warm glow of the festive period dissipated and the entire health system in Northern Ireland came under immense pressure. I witnessed this being felt most acutely initially by our fracture and emergency department teams, as well as in paediatric intensive care and children’s ED where an unprecedented number of patients needed our immediate help. Notwithstanding the pressure, the true character of the Belfast Trust which I have come to recognise even in my short time as Chief Executive became immediately visible. I was truly humbled to see the tremendous effort made by every team across the Trust to ensure the sickest and most vulnerable were seen, treated and admitted as quickly as possible. This increased the work of many, impacted on their own services, however as one nurse in Withers reminded me, “I wouldn’t want a relative of mine waiting for a bed.” I saw a drive and a collegiate spirit that will forever stay with me, as the authentic and connected organisation that I have previously referred to, emerged - where the patient and client came first and foremost above all else every time. Whether you work in social care, in a hospital, in whatever role, it was clear to me that staff met – and continue to meet - this challenge head-on.

‘I know this herculean effort has not come without pain or inconvenience and disappointment to patients who have had non-urgent procedures postponed. We owe it to them to reschedule these as soon as possible. I want to sincerely thank each of your work over the past few weeks to keep our hospitals safe and in maintaining the flow of people through our health and social care system. The Minister, Jim Wells, and Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly, have both asked that I pass on their gratitude to you.

‘Unfortunately, we also know that winter is long, and these pressures are likely to remain for some time yet. However, we should meet them with confidence. This is an organisation that has prepared and we will concentrate on doing the right thing for patients and clients. I can only thank you and assure you that you have my confidence and my full support in the weeks ahead.’