Image Credit: ceridwen (CC-BY-SA/2.0)
In response to the crises of previous years Oxfordshire NHS Trust has announced it is appointing a Winter Director to oversee coordination of care and health services through the winter period.
The Trust is one of the first in the UK to create such a position and it hopes this new initiative will help avoid the situations seen in recent years with hospitals being placed on ‘black alert’ due to lack of staff, increased patient numbers and difficult weather conditions.
Tahmeena Ajmal, the newly appointed Winter Director, outlined her thoughts and plans for dealing with the upcoming winter period: “We have been thinking about this since April, working early to put things in place.
“When we look at last winter we had people working very, very hard to deal with the pressures, but we didn’t coordinate services well enough.
“We spent too much time trying to get people out of hospital instead of trying to help them avoid having to go there in the first place.”
As part of her new role Tahmeena will be responsible for coordinating social services, GPs, hospitals, ambulance services, mental health services and charities all with the goal of beating the winter surge in NHS demand.
She added: “This approach will also rely on people having their own winter plan to help protect from coughs, colds and flu.
“I would like everyone in Oxfordshire to have a winter plan for themselves and their family, so that they know what they need to do to keep as well as possible, what they can do if they start to get unwell, and how they can look after their elderly neighbour who might not be able to look after themselves.”
County Councillor Susanna Pressel commented on the appointment saying: “The chief execs have appointed an impressive new officer to oversee the new winter plan.
“She seems to have hit the ground running, which is good.
“However, the cuts to the NHS budget, the rising demand (especially in winter) and the continuing problems with recruitment and retention of staff make it difficult to be optimistic about the future.”