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A message from our chief executives Urgent appeal to staff on leave or with planned leave

Our hospitals are under huge pressure – COVID-19 hospitalisations are increasing sharply with more patients requiring critical care beds. To ensure we can continue to provide safe care, we need your help. If you are on leave, or have leave planned over the coming days, please can you defer to support our efforts. This is particularly important for clinical staff, but everybody has a part to play and non-clinical staff can be trained and redeployed on site where help is needed. This is especially important over the next few days, when more staff traditionally plan to take leave, and we have significant staff shortages on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. But this pressure will continue for the foreseeable future and your ongoing support is going to be crucial in us getting through. To support these ongoing efforts, please contact your line manager to discuss any annual leave you may have booked, and ensure that all your annual leave arrangements are in line with the urgent changes made by the COVID executive group last week. This means that no more than five days’ total annual leave, including bank holidays and time off in lieu, can be taken between Monday 21 December and mid-February. Any additional leave should be rearranged to help support our hospitals. Staff on e-roster will also receive a text message, and a call from the deployment team/workforce, requesting they defer their leave. Calls will be made from trust telephone numbers, which may appear on your phone as 'no caller ID' or 'number unknown'. As was the case in the first COVID surge, colleagues will be able to carry over annual leave not taken into 2021/22. We are also looking for all clinicians to work additional shifts over the coming weeks. We will offer the relevant training to staff who are redeployed to any area in which they do not usually work. Staff are reminded that if they are working a bank holiday or unsocial hours they will receive the relevant enhancements. Our operational teams have been working hard over the festive period to identify extra capacity in our trust – and across the region – to deal with this second COVID-19 surge. This includes temporarily pausing all non-urgent planned procedures/operations and non-urgent and consultant led out-patient services. We will be considering pausing other services as the position develops. Thank you to all of you for everything you have done in 2020, and to those who have been working over the festive period - we recognise this is not the way any of us would have hoped to end the year. And thank you in advance for your support and flexibility now and over the coming weeks. It is important that we continue to support, and be kind to one another during this time. Please ensure you visit our resilience and emotional support team (REST) area of Freenetto access the support available. Caroline Clarke Group chief executive Deborah Sanders Chief executive, Barnet Hospital Natalie Forrest Chief executive, Chase Farm Hospital Kate Slemeck Chief executive, Royal Free Hospital

Dear colleague, My apologies for contacting you on New Years Eve. As you will be aware the staffing situation is difficult this weekend and we are contacting all staff to check if they are available to work any additional bank shifts or postpone annual leave to work over the next few days. We appreciate that not everyone is able to change their annual leave arrangements at short notice. There is a specific request for administrative staff to help work as Ward support officers on the hospital wards. The ward support officers will be taking telephone calls, messages, providing updates to family members, acting as a runner, supporting discharges (particularly when these are delayed) etc. This will greatly support our nursing teams to focus on giving direct patient care. We are running 3 shifts per day for each ward, 7 days per week. Evenings are particularly difficult for the wards. Shift 1 09:00 - 13:00 Shift 2 13:00 - 17:00 Shift 3 17:00 - 21:00 Staff can work 1 or more shifts a day Shift patternFri 1 Jan 21Sat 2 Jan 21Sun 3 Jan 21Mon 4 Jan 21Tues 5 Jan 21Wed 6 Jan 21Thurs 7 Jan 21Fri 8 Jan 21Sat 9 Jan 21Sun 10 Jan 2109:00 - 13:00 13:00 - 17:00 17:00 - 21:00 If you think you are able to work additional shifts please either contact your line manager or supervisor, or reply back to this email [ ] with your contact number and the dates you would be able to cover. A member of the HR team will contact you. Once again I do apologise for the need to contact you on new years eve, unfortunately due to this surge we are reaching out to all staff at this time. I also include below a summary of the support available to staff over this period should you need any support or assistance. David Bray Assistant Director of People Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust People Directorate, The Grove Centre Fleet Road, London, NW3 2QG Email: Tel: 020 3758 2000 Internal extension: 23019 Summary of Staff support: Carefirst The employee assistance programme operates 24/7 and is a free telephone service where you can speak to someone immediately and be referred to a counsellor if required. Accessing Care First: You can contact Care First at any time, and access their services by logging in to the RFH Vitality website. Step 1: go to Step 2: You will then be asked for your organisation code: rfh Step 3: Click proceed and enter your details. Contact 24/7 support line: 0800 174319 Online support: Username: royalfree Password: hospital12 NHS wellbeing support (operated by Samaritans) A free wellbeing support helpline, operated by the Samaritans, provides confidential listening from trained professionals and specialist advice - including coaching, bereavement care, mental health and financial help. NHS staff can call for support, signposting and confidential listening. Contact number: 0300 131 7000 (available from 7am – 11pm, seven days a week) Text service: A 24/7 text alternative to the above helpline - NHS staff can simply text FRONTLINE to 85258. Occupational health psychological support services This service will be closed over the holiday period and will resume on 31 December. Please continue to make referrals in the normal way and they will be dealt with as soon as possible. Urgent requests will be reviewed once the service reopens. More information can be found here. Chaplaincy services The chaplaincy-spiritual care team provide a patient service 24 hours, but can also support staff in an emergency. Staff are encouraged to use other available services where possible, but in the event of an emergency over the holidays you can call ext. 33096 during the day or, for out of hours support from 6pm-10pm, please call the switchboard and ask for the Anglican Chaplain on duty. More information is available here. REST Our resilience and emotional support team (REST) provide an outreach face to face service to teams to support them through the challenges faced in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. If there is an urgent need for team support over the bank holidays then please email This email will be checked over the holiday for any urgent requests. There will be two senior clinicians on-call to assist in an emergency. REST Helpline Our resilience and emotional support team also provide a telephone service to all staff to support them through the challenges faced in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. All staff can call ext. 31276 to access this support seven days a week from 8am-10pm, including over weekends and bank holidays. From 8am-6pm the helpline is covered by mental health professionals, and from 6-10pm it is covered by the chaplaincy service. NCL in mind service from Tavistock The 'Together in Mind' website has been created by NCL in mind to provide a range of information, self-care tips, advice, self-assessments and useful podcasts to support you in working through the pandemic. Listen to the latest 'second surge' podcast here. Selfcare You can visit the hub on Freenet for a range of resources, including wellbeing tips and a number of apps that you may find useful. Other services available to staff working over the festive period Catering services Restaurants at the Royal Free Hospital and Barnet Hospital are open seven days a week, offering the normal paid for service. We are introducing a pre-order service for the main surge areas on all days. Staff in these areas will be able to pre-order a meal deal for delivery - staff can choose from a range of hot and cold options for £3.99 across all sites. Parking Free parking for staff has been extended until end of March. To park free of charge, you must be a pre-approved permit holder. Find out more here. Assisted travel Staff requiring transport to work on 25 December, or before 8.30am on 26 December, should organise their own travel and make arrangements with a minicab firm. Thanks to the support of the Royal Free Charity, staff will be able to claim the full cost of their journey. Find out more here. Accommodation Free, temporary accommodation is now available for staff to apply for. The criteria for funded accommodation must be met in order to qualify. All of the details can be found on this form. Staff will need to complete the form with their budget approver/ manager's approval and send to The team will be operating additional hours throughout the festive period, as below:
  • 24 December: 9am - 8pm

  • 25 - 28 December: 9am - 5pm

  • 29 - 31 December: 9am - 8pm

  • 1 - 3 January: 9am - 5pm

Staff COVID-19 swabbing over the festive period Please note the changes to the staff swabbing services over the festive holiday period. You can find the revised timetable with details of swabbing at each site, and the options available out of hours, on Freenet here. COVID-19 risk assessments All staff should have completed a COVID-19 risk assessment. If you have not completed one or believe you circumstances have changed, please speak to your line manager. New starters and bank workers also need to complete a risk assessment with their line manger. Click here for further guidance and to view the risk assessment form. COVID-19 staff vaccinations We are vaccinating priority groups as set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. Our focus is to offer vaccinations to care home staff, and to hospital staff in the following priority order:

  • Patient facing staff who are identified as being at higher risk of the virus (following their risk assessment) and who work in high-risk areas

  • Patient facing staff who are at higher risk of the virus

  • Patient facing staff who work in high-risk areas.

Eligible staff will be contacted directly and sent a link to book an appointment via Swiftqueue. Colleagues are not to forward the link. Staff booking their vaccine will need to be registered with a GP and have an NHS number. All appointments must be booked in advance, the clinic is not accepting walk-ins. Please continue to keep up to date with Freenet and see the downloadable resources from Public Health England.

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