Our community, our heroes

Nothing can ever quite prepare you for the crisis that we have seen developing over the past weeks, our lives have changed and will probably never be quite the same again.

But we are confident that St Joseph’s plans are robust and we have rolled our sleeves up (nurses and doctors do that anyway) and our inpatient and community services are running well, albeit with fewer staff than usual and very few volunteers.

Like a lot of hospices and healthcare providers we have had to fight a different battle, to get the essential protective equipment we need. We have been without a supply of PPE for a while and we were having difficulties finding a route through NHS procurement, our usual supplier.

We put out on urgent appeal on our social media channels and the response has been phenomenal, our community swung into action as they have done time and time again throughout our 115 year history.

The social media appeal generated hundreds of retweets, shares on Facebook and individuals lobbying their local MPs, parliament and anyone else who would listen. After all of this, along with plugging my concerns into the wider health economy locally, I am pleased to tell you that we have now received our first stock supply of most of the PPE we asked for, not all of it, but all the major items we needed, were delivered.

As well as the NHS supply we have received donations of equipment from individuals, schools, GPs, dentists, university labs, pharmacies and other charities. There are too many to list here but you know who you are and we are really grateful.

Although St Joseph’s has been around for 115 years, I am always stunned by the generosity of the people in the boroughs we serve, City of London, Hackney, and two of the poorest boroughs in the country, Newham and Tower Hamlets. Despite this, there is a real understanding that we are a local service that is really needed even after more than a century.

St Joseph’s Hospice is a charity and we are only half funded by the NHS, leaving us to raise around £7 million each year to keep the service running. If the last few weeks has shown me anything it’s that with the help of our community and the populations we serve we will get through this, and we’ll still be here in another 115 years, that’s a promise.

Tony McLean, Chief Executive, St Joseph’s Hospice