I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that January would never end. It just seemed to go on forever this year and I am still not entirely sure that this January did not have 56 days in it rather than the normal 31, and if not, it certainly felt like it, but it is now over and that for me means the first Blog of the year is now due!
We staggered the closure times of both of our Centres this year, with Harrogate closing one week before Auchterarder, but also opening one week earlier. We are always very conscious that our Police Officers and Staff work around the clock and for every day of the year, so we were very pleased to only be closed for one week this year and were treating our police patients right up until a few days before we closed for Christmas, and then immediately got re-started again in early January, and I do know that this was appreciated by those who attended.
The Christmas closure also provided a welcome opportunity to do some much needed refurbishment and maintenance at the Centres without disturbing our Patients, and this is part of our typical rolling capital replacement plan that ensures that both Centres remain in superb condition, and that when our Patients come for treatment, they are not only going to get the very best service, it is going to be done in a fantastic setting. Not all of this work is immediately obvious as some if it is behind the scenes, but I am writing this Blog from Auchterarder at the moment, and it is fantastic to see the newly opened Craft Room that we recently installed to mirror the very popular one at the Harrogate Centre, and the significant expansion and improvement of the Castlebrae Gym which includes a number of items of new equipment.
I also want to thank the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) for a very large and generous donation that they gave to the PTC shortly before Christmas that will allow us to embark on a substantial modernisation programme at the Auchterarder Centre, and to improve the quality of the stay of all our patients. The SPF have been hugely supportive of the PTC during the whole of my tenure as CEO, and it is really clear that as a Federation they genuinely care about the welfare and health of all of their members, and we are very fortunate to have such a well run, professional and supportive Federation as one of our constituent forces.
I am pleased to say that 2023 is already looking to be a much more normal year than 2022 or before. Notwithstanding some overhangs from COVID both our Centres were very much open for business in 2022, but despite this, we only treated 2867 patients. I write “only treated” but I do know that for all of those patients who did attend our Centres, we delivered the very best of care and treatment to them, but this figure was 800 fewer patients than the number that we treated in 2019 which was the last normal pre-COVID year. It is clear that lots of our potential Patients are still struggling to get away from work and having to cover for colleagues, but when you need to come to the PTC for treatment, I would encourage everyone to do so at the very earliest possible moment as I absolutely guarantee that we will help you with whatever your injury or issue is, and get you back to work much earlier than would otherwise be the case, so please do not be shy about taking some time for yourself to get yourself fixed.
I do also want to take a moment to thank our Retired Officer donors. There are now over 8500 of you, and this number increases every year, and many of you donate much more than the minimum monthly donation of £4.50 per month, and do so in the expectation that you may never need to use the PTC, but that your donation will go towards helping those colleagues who have not been as fortunate as you might have been who do need the services of the Charity. Linked to this I am really pleased that we have now rolled out as promised the first two Retired Officer Wellbeing Programmes (ROWP) at each of our centres. I always felt that the ROWP that we started with would not be the one that we ended with, and there is some testing and adjusting that we will need to do before we finalise the content of the Programme, but we have made a good start in what has been a long awaited and overdue new Programme at the PTC. It is now running well, and it is going to be a regular part of what we do in the future to support our Retired colleagues.
Linked to this we have mentioned before that we piloted 3 intakes of the Intensive Trauma Service Course in 2022 in conjunction with Police Care UK which aims to treat the higher end mental health and wellbeing issues such as PTSD. I am very pleased to say that it has now been decided that we are going to continue with these in 2023 and are already starting to firm up some plans of some new courses for 2023, and once we have more details on these, we will publicise them to the wider police community.
Finally, policing really seems to be under the cosh at the moment with one piece of bad news and negative publicity following on from another, but I know from talking to literally thousands of Police Officers and Police Staff each year that the vast majority of the men and women who serve in the Police do so with honour and distinction, and hold themselves to the highest standards of discipline and conduct, and frequently put their own physical and mental health on the line in the defence of the vulnerable and those affected by crime.
So I want to close this Blog by thanking all of you for the fantastic work that you do on our behalf, putting your health and life on the line in how you deal with and resolve challenging incidents every day that never make it into the news media, and do so with professionalism, courage, restraint, compassion, good humour and self-discipline. I still believe that the UK Police Service is the very best in the world, and all of us at the PTC are very proud to treat and support you when you need our help.
Stay Safe Everyone.
Patrick Cairns, CEO PTC