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Message from Tracey

Hello everyone,

I wanted to update you on where we are currently in relation to our health protection response to the pandemic and what that means in relation to the mobilisation of our people.

Following discussion at Gold once again this week, I can confirm that the organisation remains at an enhanced level of response. As I’ve highlighted before, in practical terms, although we may be at an enhanced emergency response level, given the substantial increase in activity for our health protection response due to the increasing incidence of COVID-19 across the country, we must once again act ‘as if we are in a major incident’. Making sure that we allocate and mobilise sufficient resource and support from across the organisation to meet our heightened response requirements and support our collective well-being and resilience is key.  To clarify for all of us once again, our health protection response remains our key priority for the organisation.   

I know we are all suffering from response fatigue given the pace, persistence and scale of what all of our people have been doing for the last few months and I can’t thank you all enough for the sacrifices that you’ve been making both from a work and a family perspective to protect our people in Wales. This makes it even more difficult and challenging for everyone involved in our health protection response to deal with the exceptionally high burden of activity at the moment. 

We have therefore taken the decision to not reactivate any further activities or functions across the organisation at this time, with the exception of our screening services that have been active incrementally since August, and a small number of activities that have continued throughout the pandemic. We will of course review this on an ongoing basis. This will enable us to ask many of you who have been fantastic through the pandemic, and who may have returned wholly or mainly back to your pre-COVID roles, to once again support our health protection response in order for us to support the well-being of everyone involved and deliver a sustainable health protection service for our population. Thank you also to those of you who have continued to support our response throughout the last few months.

So, what happens next, well following completion of a detailed validation exercise with the support of your Executive Director, we have collated information to inform the next steps required for mobilisation. The Mobilisation Team will be making contact with you and your line manager if you have been identified as a key person required for the response.  

You may be required to join the surge pool for the National Contact Centre and may be expected to be available at short notice.  When we are not in surge, people will be expected to continue with other work identified in the Operational Plan which is going to the Board next week for approval and will be shared with you all. The Plan incorporates our health protection priority response, how we can mitigate the broader population harms of COVID, the reactivation of our essential services and how we all co-design how we want the organisation to be and our ways of working going forward.

For those with certain skills sets e.g.  consultants, practitioners, nurses, you may be contacted to provide some or all of your hours to support one of the teams or functions within the Health Protection Response Cell.  This is needed to increase resilience within the enhanced response.  If you are not required for your whole working time in this part of the response, then you will continue to work on one of the agreed areas of work as identified in the Operational plan and agreed with your manager.
If you have been trained for one of these roles previously but have not worked on the response for some time, you will be fully supported and given refresher training or if you are new to the role you will also be given training.   Once you have undertaken the necessary training, you will be confirmed as being ready to support escalated demand, as and when required.

While staff are deployed to support the response, their line management arrangements remain unchanged in relation to supporting their wellbeing, keeping in touch and updating on things within their home team. Staff will also have a supervisor in their deployed role who will be responsible for their day to day management.

We are likely to be rolling in and out of high activity periods and surge points over the coming weeks and months and this will require us all to be flexible and agile to support each other and our public until things can settle down. We are in the process of submitting a business case to the Welsh Government to increase our capacity across our health protection functions and, subject to this being approved, that will help us considerably over the coming months.

Thank you so very much for everything you’re doing in every role that you’re playing within the organisation and for your patience, support and flexibility at this challenging time. 

Very best wishes to everyone and please take care of yourselves, your family and your colleagues.