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West Suffolk Hospital chief Steve Dunn welcomes the arrival of a Covid vaccine



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History was made earlier this week when 90-year- old Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to be given the Pfizer Covid-19 jab.

This is the first of millions of jabs that will be given to residents in the UK over the next few months, and for a lot of us watching it live on TV, it really felt like this was a significant moment.

The coronavirus is still with us and to celebrate early would be dangerous, but hopefully we will soon start to see some return to normal life.

The coronavirus Covid-19 Vaccine is here
The coronavirus Covid-19 Vaccine is here

While Margaret received the attention of the cameras, and rightly so, it was matron May Parsons who administered the first jab. May is the first of thousands of individuals up and down the country who will play major roles in the mass vaccination of the population over the coming months.

Closer to home, the NHS across Suffolk is gearing up for our part in this crucial national effort.

I know many of you will be very keen to have the vaccine, but can I please ask that you show patience and do not call your GP, pharmacies, or hospitals about the vaccine. There is limited supply of the new vaccine and the NHS is making sure it goes first to the people most at risk from Covid-19. We will be in touch with you as soon as we can offer you the vaccine.

As the days are getting colder and we’re taking those extra minutes to de-ice our cars in the morning, I want to take the opportunity to pay a special tribute to our community teams who are out and about every single day.

Recently, I shadowed our Bury Rural District Nursing team who talked to me about their highs and lows of working in a community team through an international pandemic. One story that really stuck with me was when I was told about Sian, the team leader. When the first phase of the pandemic began, to continue to support and protect her patients, she took the difficult decision to leave her young family until it was safe to return. The commitment shown by all our staff in the community is incredible and truly humbling.

I also had the privilege to go out and about with registered district nurse, Michelle, who introduced me to her patients who had nothing but praise and admiration for what our district nurses and community teams do for them.

This year has changed so much for so many people and the community teams are no exception – especially as a lot of their ‘offices’ are actually in their own cars! Thank you to Michelle and everyone who made me feel welcome and I’m so proud that residents all across the county benefit from your knowledge and skills.

When out and about or even watching television, you are guaranteed to know that it’s Christmas in just a couple of weeks. I want to sincerely thank every single resident of west Suffolk for their resilience in 2020 as this has been a year quite like no other.

You have looked after yourselves and your loved ones through washing your hands, maintaining social distancing and wearing your masks. We are not out of the woods yet in regards to the pandemic, but I am very grateful for all you have done.

While we can’t predict the future and what 2021 will bring us, I can guarantee that the hard working staff at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust will continue to be there for west Suffolk throughout the Christmas period and beyond. Many will be working as we sit down to eat our Christmas dinners or getting ready to start their nightshift when we turn on the TV to watch a festive classic. Every single member of staff at the trust has been exceptional and they always will be.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas, stay safe.

-- Dr Steve Dunn is chief executive of West Suffolk Foundation Trust

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