Meeting challenges

Karen Middleton provides a reminder to look out for ourselves and each other

Meeting challenges CSP CEO Karen Middleton

The trouble with writing this column in advance is that the context in which you’re reading it might be very different from when I wrote it.  

Changing context is never more a challenge than now as the Covid second surge is taking hold. You might be reading this in complete lockdown; we may be just about managing or we might have reduced the R rate significantly. I’m going to assume it is one of the first two. 

Recently I held a meeting with all the CSP staff to talk about this next phase of the pandemic. Those of you in leadership positions have probably been doing similar things. A lot of thought has to go into the communication because it is important to recognise how everyone is feeling – weary, exhausted and generally fed-up – yet also give hope and inspire people to dig deep and rise to the challenge again. 

CSP members in all sectors rose to the challenges of the first wave and focussed on saving lives. This meant sacrifice and significant change and it took courage. For many, the uniqueness of the situation and the adrenaline that kicked in carried them through, and some actually thrived. For some, the fragility of their income meant untold worry about their livelihoods and future.  And, of course, some faced tragedy on a daily basis, sometimes affecting their own families and friends. 

In ‘normal’ circumstances, there would be time to recover and convalesce, but the pandemic has not allowed that. Members are dealing with the consequences of the first wave, making adjustments and learning lessons, as well as dealing with the second surge.  

It seems to me this is the first time in our lifetime when our professional and personal lives have completely converged and it’s difficult to manage. With childcare, elderly dependents, virtual working, home-schooling, unemployment or loss of income, the symptoms of this virus affect us at home and at work and we are battling on both fronts. And it’s going to continue for some time to come, so waiting for it to pass before taking action is not the way to manage it, I’m afraid. It requires leaders to lean in. 

The good news is that this profession responded magnificently the first time around and we’ll do so again. We have the experience and the lessons we’ve learnt and, hopefully, we have understood what being resilient involves. I am not under-estimating the challenges but we will come out of this stronger and that can only be good for the public and patients. 

Soon we’ll come together for vPUK – another example of our ability to adapt to challenging circumstances. Let’s connect and remind ourselves of what we have in common and what is being achieved everyday. And let’s learn. The profession is celebrating 100 years of its Royal Charter and those 100 years have seen the aftermath of two world wars and now this pandemic, and each time it has adapted and grown stronger. 

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