22 December 2020 CEO Blog Post


I don’t know about you, but it’s the uncertainty that gets to me. You see, I am a planner really. When I am happy I like to book nice things to look forward to – like holidays, meals out, and theatre and concert experiences.  As a long suffering football fan (most football fans are long suffering) the phrase ‘It’s the hope that kills you’ is a familiar refrain.

Probably like you I have things on hold, indeed some things that have just gone, the moment lost.

I am not going to write a blog to try and sum up my feelings about this year. Whilst our experiences may be somewhat different I suspect you will have the same feelings I do.

Instead, I am going to say thank you. Firstly, thank you to our amazing staff. You have adapted your working practices, or for some, even been asked to do totally different things. This has been done with a smile and with understanding.  

Thank you to the people who have continued to come into the hospital, even when they have been scared or uncertain of how it will be. Thank you to those who have worked from home, often feeling isolated and perhaps sometimes unappreciated. I can assure you that you are appreciated more than ever.

At RJAH we do not have ‘them’ and ‘us’ – there is only ‘us’. I am proud that we value difference and that we respect each other, regardless of status or grade. I know sometimes it doesn’t always feel like that - but the point is we are working on it. This experience will only bring us closer together.

To our volunteers a special thank you. Volunteering is tough. It is not the social and rewarding experience it perhaps once was. It is hard and can be thankless. We appreciate those of you on site and those of you who can’t be for now.

Our patients have been, and continue to be very understanding. However, this is going to be a long road back. We have a backlog that is going to take much longer than a few months to clear. We will continue to communicate our progress and we will treat people in order. Above all we will do our best.

If you are looking for a good read please can I commend “A breath of fresh air, memories of the Orthopaedic Hospital by Marie Carter” It is available in the League of Friends Shop. At moments like this looking back is often helpful to us in looking to the future.

Shropshire Orthopaedic Hospital – the previous name for RJAH - was opened on the 5th
August 1921.

Next year therefore is our 100th year on this site. Interestingly our hospital was known for its open sided wards.  A response to managing infection – how relevant to those of us huddled outside in the last period.

Our hospital has survived many challenges over the years. Significantly, the impact of the Second World War, a devastating fire in 1948, a tragic Typhoid outbreak and even the formation of the NHS.

RJAH will come through the Covid-19 experience just like it has all those other events. It will be the sense of community and togetherness that will ensure that 2021 is not only a year of celebration but a change to renew and refresh.

Whatever happens with my rebooked holidays or my rearranged theatre trips I am excited and optimistic about what 2021 will deliver. I intend to plan less and live in the moment. Enjoy what I have not what I don’t.

However, one thing we are planning (I can’t help it) is a HUGE thank you party for our staff when we can! Maybe my rhetoric and my reality will come together eventually – but for now. I don’t care. 

Thank you to all those working over Christmas to keep our patients safe and especially those working on the Bank Holidays. It is very much appreciated.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Best Wishes,


Mark Brandreth
Chief Executive


Image of Mark Brandreth, Chief Executive

Do you have any thoughts or comments on this blog entry?

If so, please send to rjah.chief.executive@nhs.net.