Across the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, staff have been volunteering to be redeployed to other roles to support the hospital during the coronavirus pandemic.
Staff redeployment and changes to ways of working have been introduced to ensure COVID-19 patients receive the best possible care, while the RUH remains open for other patients who need emergency care.
Kirstie Flood, who works in the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care, has temporarily moved to the adult intensive care unit with colleagues Fiona Brooke-Vincent, Alexa Poppleston and Annabel Moore, to work on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis.
Kirstie said: “Between us we have many years’ experience in the neonatal unit and felt we had enough transferable skills, that could be built upon, to be useful in Intensive Care.
“Caring for critically ill COVID-19 patients has been extremely challenging for us, especially as we are now caring for fully grown adults and learning at an accelerated rate.
“It’s certainly both emotionally and physically tiring, but we are all loving giving intensive, compassionate care to these very vulnerable patients. It’s a wonderful feeling when you see a patient recover and leave the ward.
“It’s been an honour to become temporarily part of the amazing ITU team and help during this crisis.”
Another member of staff who has been redeployed is 18-year-old Charlotte Harmer.
Charlotte had been an apprentice in the hospital’s Quality Improvement team for the past year and half, but when the opportunity came for her to start a new role as a Healthcare Assistant, she jumped at the chance.
“It was a very easy decision for me,” she said. “I have been interested in the clinical side of the hospital for a long time, and I was always intrigued by the work of the nurses in the Quality Improvement team.
“I would often go along with them on visits to wards and I think that’s what really sparked my interest.
“My last role was an administration one, so this is completely different for me, but I think this opportunity has really just brought forward something I was going to do anyway.”
Charlotte, who is based in the RUH’s Combe ward, said the training had been intensive but something she had enjoyed.
“There was a lot to take in and it covered so many different topics, but it was very good and helped me to feel prepared.
“I’m really enjoying it. I like to be busy and on my feet and every day I’m learning something new. I’m supported by a great team too, which is just as well as I’m asking a lot of questions!”
Charlotte said she didn’t think twice about working on one of the wards, even though she was starting her new role during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s not something that I’ve worried about too much,” she said. “I’m taking all the right safety precautions and I’m pleased to be one of the frontline workers. My family have been very supportive of me too, they just told me to go for it.”
Kate Whiting has been a Children’s Occupational Therapist at the RUH for seven years.
She has been redeployed to work in the hospital’s Incident Coordination Centre, which was set up in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Kate said: “I work in the staff command, taking details of staff who are unwell or who may need to self-isolate. This helps our teams across the hospital plan their staffing and arrange testing where it’s needed.
“The team have been really welcoming. They have been very supportive and have been sure to pair me up with someone who could show me the processes and how everything works.
“It’s been great to be able to help out. I’ve been volunteering to do night shifts and have also taken some night shifts at late notice, which I know has been really appreciated.”
Abby Strange had been working in the hospital’s Membership Office since 2017, but when work began to quieten down due to the coronavirus pandemic she was asked to consider volunteering to take on a different role.
She is now working in Occupational Health, helping to organise staff testing for COVID-19.
“I help with bookings and will sometimes support the nurses with the swabs,” she said.
“I’m really enjoying it. It’s a very different role to what I had been doing but I’m enjoying seeing another side to the hospital.
“I’m really pleased that I volunteered to help out. I really wanted to help support other departments whilst my usual work was on hold so I’m glad to be doing that.”
Trust Chief Executive James Scott said: “We have an outstanding team at the RUH who have been working together to adapt to the huge challenges we are facing right now.
“Staff who have volunteered to be redeployed are playing a crucial role across the hospital, supporting our staff and providing the highest quality of care for our patients.”