In such a challenging time in the NHS it is important to reflect on what has been accomplished over the past six months as we navigate the second wave of the pandemic. These case studies reflect just a small proportion of the ingenuity and innovation we have seen across the health service over the past six months, and they also demonstrate the huge potential that exists to transform and improve services.
"Locking in" the learning of the pandemic is now a well-worn phrase and a much repeated aspiration, and it is no less important for that. However as important is a shared understanding of the factors that enabled local leaders, services and their staff make such great strides in such a short period of time.
During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic the usual financial and bureaucratic obstacles to innovation were moved to one side. Previous financial constraints were temporarily lifted, meaning that investment could be made speedily and that partnerships could be more easily cemented without having to consider 'who was paying for what'. National and local regulatory controls were appropriately loosened and governance arrangements were pared down which helped to speed up decision-making. While the level four incident status of a pandemic means greater central prescription in many ways, there was also local freedom to act to get the job done without central interference.
Alongside this, and not to be downplayed, is the sense of mission and commitment that permeated all parts and levels of the NHS. It is this that we need to bottle for the challenging winter ahead and beyond.