Governors in lockdown

We asked two of our governors how lockdown has been for them. Here's what Sally Robertshaw (left in the photo), staff governor for the Allied Healthcare Professionals/Healthcare Scientists and Christine Mills, publicly elected governor for Huddersfield Central told us:

It’s been a rollercoaster 2020 for everyone. Sum up how you’re feeling in three words.

Sally: Concerned, uncertain, hopeful.

Christine: Frustrated, apprehensive, positive, all at different times.

What’s impressed you about how the NHS has risen to the challenge of the pandemic?

Sally: The personal commitment of individuals at every level to step-up and collectively stand and face the challenges of 2020 with determination, tenacity, empathy, compassion, care and humanity.

Christine: Having been privileged to attend a number of meetings at the Trust (virtually of course) I have listened to some devastating facts. Having said that I have been amazed and humbled to hear staff talk about how they have supported each other and faced every new task and every new day. Both as governors and the general public we should be proud of our staff in this Trust in the hospitals and in the community.

Did you enjoy Clap for our Carers on Thursday nights?

Sally: Of course! My pans took a significant beating and one of my wooden spoons didn’t survive the experience! I have an incredible video on my phone from Thursday 23rd April when I walked from our home to an area above Holmfirth with my family.  It’s really heart-warming to hear the sudden incredibly loud sounds from hands clapping, voices whooping, items being clattered and horns beeping from below and across the valley.

Christine: I live on a main road but we were still all out there, with cars joining in as they drove up and down. One lady much younger than me was there every week running up and down banging a pan with a spoon to encourage everyone.

What has proved most difficult for you over the past few months? 

Sally: For me, work has been challenging in that everything has been different (as it has for everyone), and re-emerging is complicated, but I have felt fortunate to be able to continue with the routine of ‘going to work’. Personally/family wise it has been extremely sad as my mum passed away at the end of July after 9 days in hospital. This wasn’t Covid related, but obviously we couldn’t visit her and the funeral was limited to 30 (although lots of folks came and stood outside the church and along the road) and there was no gathering afterwards as we were back in additional restrictions at that time.

Christine: Being well over seventy, I haven't been able to help my children with childcare and I have found it very hard not being able to spend time with my grandchildren.

How do you see the challenges of the next few years for the local NHS?

Sally: We keep hearing the phrase ‘a new normal’ and I’m sure this will be true for the NHS. Working within guidelines, meeting the needs of our patients and keeping them and all staff safe will be an ongoing priority. Our practices are likely to be changed for the long term and the challenges as I see it are in ensuring that patients' needs are met fully, despite the inevitable ongoing adaptations to service delivery; and that staff are supported throughout.

Christine: Persuading the public that we have to be brave and face this problem but we have to do it sensibly. If we follow the guidance we will gradually get back to a position where we can return to the hospitals for treatment. We must also be tolerant and patient with others. We will all move forward at different speeds.

Have you a secret for getting through a lockdown?

Sally: Evening walks with varying members of my family/household and our Labrador became my routine. Sometimes all of us, sometimes just one or two. Walking, talking and fresh air.

Christine: Having breakfast with my grandchildren via Zoom sets me up for the day. I've looked forward to Friday evenings when my son has delivered the shopping to us every week - we've then gone through what he's brought and decided on the menu for the following week. During the days I've kept myself busy with a bit of gardening, a good book and cooking the evening meal with my husband.

And, finally, what’s made you smile?

Sally: My family all being at home, communities coming together, people looking out for each other, those early weeks where rainbows appeared in everyone’s windows, the nation appreciating key workers from all sectors on Thursday evenings, Marcus Rashford speaking out (in his slippers) and helping families that need it, people working in care homes – ‘living-in’ and not seeing their own families, sometimes for months, to care for others…all these, and so many more examples of people showing strong humanity.

Christine: That's easy. After many, many weeks, we were finally able to visit my daughter and her family again. My two-year-old grandson ran to the door and said "Grandma you've come back! I am happy!" It brought tears to my eyes, albeit happy ones. Here's hoping he understands why it won't be happening again for a while.

Keep smiling and stay safe.