Spring 2020 issue
Est. Reading: 2 minutes

Supporting Our Staff Through COVID-19

ELFT along with all NHS trusts in the UK has been wholly focused on joining the national response to COVID-19. This has been a fast-changing landscape which has required managers and staff to adapt and adjust, to ensure staff can do their jobs safely, and that we can safely support the vulnerable people in our care.

Following the Prime Ministers announcement on 23 March that the UK would go into a state of lockdown to reduce the spread of coronavirus, staff with underlying conditions were immediately advised to stay at home.

Additionally, staff in roles that could be done from home were advised to work from home until further notice.

A huge amount of work was undertaken to find safe ways for staff who needed to be at work to travel in safely and stay safe. We have put staff up in hotels, arranged taxis and parking restrictions were suspended on all our sites for those able to drive. Helpfully, many councils suspended parking restrictions for NHS staff.

All ward staff have moved into wearing ‘scrubs’ to reduce the risk of spread of infection. Staff can change their clothes before and after their shift, and bundle them into laundry bags to put in their washing machines as one to wash at 60°C. We established a central system for Personal Protective Equipment to streamline ordering processes and distribution. We issued one daily central communication to all staff bringing together new instructions, and drawing all guidance into one core briefing so that staff were and are kept up to date.

The ‘Gold’ major incident response team met every day to manage the situation, monitor how services were coping, staffing levels, levels of infection, and to problem-solve. We became aware quite early in the pandemic of reports that BAME staff appeared to be more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus and had higher rates of death.

Chief Nurse Lorraine Sunduza and Chief Operating Officer, Edwin Ndlovu, held an extraordinary BAME ‘virtual’ Staff Network meeting, attended by over 100 staff to talk about this and hear staff concerns. Further meetings have happened as a platform for staff to talk about their experiences and look at next steps.

CEO Navina Evans said

“I cannot find the words to express how proud I am of the people who work in ELFT. Our COVID-19 response has involved everyone, from the procurement team who worked tirelessly to source Personal Protective Equipment, the IT who almost overnight enabled staff to work remotely, to our clinical staff conducting assessments and checks over the phone and via video calls, as well as clinical staff working in our units or visiting people where they live, admin staff, estates and facilities staff, the list is endless. We will now look at how we can capture the learning from this extraordinary situation, look at how we can recover as an organisation, and look at what has permanently changed in the way we provide services as a result of the pandemic.”

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