Praise for Sunderland NHS staff as they go 'above and beyond' to keep hospital running
NHS workers who have battled through treacherous conditions or camped out at hospital overnight have been praised for their dedication.
Staff at Sunderland Royal stayed put for the last night to ensure they were on hand to start their shift today, while others were helped by 4x4 vehicles so they could care for inpatients and run clinics.
Workers will continue to stay over tonight as they too ensure wards and units have enough colleagues to run.
Areas away from patients are being used to help the team members get some rest.
Carol Harries, deputy chief executive of City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: "A massive thank you to staff at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust who, despite the freezing conditions, have gone above and beyond to ensure that there is minimal disruption to patient care and that we are able to continue to treat those who need it the most.
"Some staff on night shift have worked longer hours to allow colleagues more time to travel in safely.
"The trust is also supporting those who live in some of the more adversely affected areas, by using 4x4 vehicles to collect staff who are unable to access transport and offering overnight accommodation to key clinical staff who would otherwise struggle to get home.'"
In a Facebook post shared more than 18,400 times, the trust said: "Can you believe many of our amazing staff are sleeping in the hospital tonight so they can care for patients tomorrow?!
"We’ve got your beds ready for you peeps #wedontstopforsnow #AmazingNHS
"How many shares can we get to say #ThankYou."
The post included a photo of wards for men and women and others of toiletries ready for the staff to use.
Paediatric staff nurse Lisa Gerrett was among those who have faced awful conditions to make it in and will be staying over tonight ready to start duties again tomorrow.
She was helped in by Tyne and Wear Access, which has been using its 4x4 to go to the aid of health workers who need to reach their shift.
"Staff right across the trust have struggled to get in," she said.
"We had one nurse who walked 50 minutes to get in and turned up soaking wet, we've had one staff nurse who came in when it wasn't her shift, and one sister arrived with a hold all with all her overnight stuff ready.
"I tried to make it in from Chester-le-Street yesterday and it took me three and a half hours to go a distance which would normally take seven minutes, so I was told we had enough staff and to turn around.
"Whatever it's been like in Sunderland, it's much worse over there.
"But I put up an SOS on Facebook asking for help and Tyne and Wear Access answered it and came and picked me up this morning, they've done a great job.
"We've had a great response from the public and they're really appreciated it and that definitely makes it all worth while.
"One of our patients commented they hadn't seen a difference in the service than normal and said how much they had appreciated it.
"Staff across the hospital have been doing this and doing what they can."
Among those to voice their appreciation is Linda Tate, who said on the Echo's Facebook page: "They are dedicated and not to forget the men who keep the paths and roads clear day and night in the hospitals they work really hard throughout the night."
Others said care home staff had also been doing the same to ensure they could be there ready to help their residents.
The trust, which is also responsible for Sunderland Eye Infirmary, has also said that due to the extreme weather, all non-urgent outpatient appointments and operations have been cancelled today.
It said: "We are contacting all patients affected by this and sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused."
Hebburn-based Tyne and Wear Access last night used their 4x4 Land Rover Discovery to help health workers get to and from work and have continued to help people today.
The equipment hire and training company is run by Kevin Lewins and son John, who lives in Sunderland.
Staff, who had helped rescue stranded drivers from the Coast Road in South Shields yesterday morning, posted a video on its Facebook page, showing the blizzard conditions they were working in with the message: "Still flat out, sorry to anyone that we haven’t replied to, just been inundated all day."
The firm has come in for praise via social media as people shared the note about the company's kind gestures.
The workers offered doctors, nurses and other NHS staff a lift free of charge up until around 10.30pm last night.