“Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, and since we've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow”. I can hear you all signing along and I apologise because the song will now stay in your head all day! However, I wanted to use it to just reflect on what it does to the hospital.

To provide a service to you all, we need staff, in fact nearly 4000 of them. As you can imagine, very few of our staff live locally enough to walk, so getting in to work has been difficult. Most made it and there are some heroic stories of people setting off at 5am to ensure they arrived, of walking for 2 or 3 hours and some even volunteering to work 24 hour shifts to care for their patients. Hospitals are always busy places, but inclement weather such as we have just experienced, puts an additional strain on the service. We have seen the largest number of ambulances ever turning up at our doors - almost 100 a day! Obviously there have been many trips and falls and some of these have unfortunately resulted in painful breaks. But there have also been very seriously ill patients who needed the expertise and skill of the ambulance staff to get them here.

Information is key. On the very first day of the snow we established a ‘silver command’ group. This isn’t what you may be thinking, a bunch of old timers with grey hair sitting around talking (although come to think of it….), this was a mixture of medical, surgical, nursing and management staff meeting twice a day to review the situation. This enabled us to ensure messages about how the services were running and the possibility of further bad weather to be relayed to staff and put on our Internet page every few hours. So, finally as we rush off to enjoy the festive season – and I sincerely hope you have a great one – please spare an extra festive thought for the wonderful staff that keep your hospital safe and running well; they really do care for the people of west Hertfordshire.