Liveryman Dr Tim Gocher – NHS Governor
Liveryman Dr Tim Gocher has been elected as a Governor at the NHS Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust and has recounted his first experiences.
In October 2020, just as the second COVID wave was stirring, I started a position as a Governor at the NHS Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust. This followed elections by the membership earlier in the year. The timing could not have been better (or worse, depending on one’s appetite for challenge) as the new variant, that began in Essex, East London and Kent, rapidly overwhelmed our hospitals.
The Trust serves a population of 1.2m and manages three major hospitals in Chelmsford (Broomfield), Southend and Basildon employing over 12,000 staff. In scenario planning for the second wave, before knowledge of the variant, the Trust had planned for up to 46 COVID ICU patients at any one time. At the peak, we had about 300, with 900 COVID patients hospitalised. Essex local authorities declared a “major incident” on 30th December, enabling emergency powers and funding to deal with the crisis. In a remarkable display of crisis management and dedication to care, no patients were turned away. Southend hospital struggled to get sufficient oxygen supply to patients, not because of a lack of oxygen, but because the “bandwidth” of the oxygen pipes was not designed for such flows.
In February 2021, the drop in hospitalisations and deaths has been dramatic, especially in the over 80s as a result of the vaccines. Some issues we are now grappling with include the “jabs for jobs” issue – how to safeguard patients from health workers who choose not to have the jab, and climbing the Himalayan mountain of backlogs for elective procedures and treatment.
In summary, I can confirm what we all know. Having seen the NHS first hand in this crisis, they are a national treasure of which I’m proud to now be a small part.
CEO, Dolma Impact Fund
Chairman, Dolma Foundation