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West Suffolk Hospital boss Craig Black on the latest developments at the trust





We recently launched our new five-year trust strategy, which focuses on three equal ambitions – ‘First for patients’; ‘First for staff’ and ‘First for the future’.

This strategy sets the direction of our organisation for the next five years and we will use this as a key platform to help us deliver our vision ‘to deliver the best quality and safest care for our community’.

While we continue to navigate the challenges that Covid-19 brings us, the launch of the new strategy gives us an opportunity to be optimistic about the future.

Craig Black, interim chief executive of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Picture by West Suffolk Hospital.
Craig Black, interim chief executive of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Picture by West Suffolk Hospital.

We hope to open a new chapter for the trust, so we can reset; build a fair, open and listening culture; transform the care we provide; and plan for the much needed new and modern healthcare facility for the people of west Suffolk.

You can read about our strategy on the www.wsh.nhs.uk website where you will also find a short animation describing what we are trying to achieve. We have a real opportunity here to make meaningful change and I hope we will look back in 2026 and feel proud of our efforts and successes.

While we are on the subject of change, I’m delighted that we were able to bring in changes to our inpatient visiting at the end of February. It’s really positive that most of our patients in our hospitals will be able to have a visitor come in for up to an hour each day. We see every day how important visiting is to both patients and their loved ones. Suspending visiting for several months was a very difficult decision to make, but I hope you understand that this was to help stop the spread of Covid-19 amongst the most vulnerable in our society and to help protect our staff.

While the majority of visiting has returned, we are keen to minimise the chance of any infection spreading, so ask all visitors to take a lateral flow test before they visit and to wear a surgical mask during your visit – these are freely available at the entrance of the hospitals. If you’re unable to physically attend the hospital to visit, our dedicated Keeping in Touch team are available to help you talk to patients digitally.

I’m sure many of you reading this, like me, are feeling deeply concerned about the current conflict in Ukraine. Situations like this can cause a lot of distress and anxiety and I know that there will be people reading this who will have loved-ones and friends in the Ukraine, Russia and surrounding regions and you will be very worried for their safety.

People from all over the globe work for the NHS, so it’s no surprise that our trust has staff who are from the affected regions. We are doing all we can to ensure they have the support they need in this very difficult time – ranging from our staff psychology support team through to our chaplaincy that offers a quiet place for contemplation.

As a nation, we are constantly surrounded by 24/7 news programmes – on our computers at work, on our screens at home and in our pockets on our phones. While this can be great, when we are shown videos or photographs of conflict and war it’s only natural to have concerns. I encourage you to limit how much news you watch and read and do something relaxing if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

The world has been through so much in the last two years and it’s so important to remember that we need to look out for each other and reach out to those who need our help when things do get a little bit too much. We have seen through a pandemic how brilliant the community west Suffolk is at looking after one and other and I know this will continue through these uncertain times.

Take care of yourselves,