The role of front line NHS staff in the fight against COVID-19 has been well documented and highly appreciated by the wider public.
But a hidden ‘army’ in this fight are the hundreds of staff who have been redeployed from their usual duties to perform vital tasks to keep patients safe.
We’ve redeployed a number of staff. Including more than 50 nurses and dozens of health care assistants and allied health care professionals such as physiotherapists to work in different services. Many of whom have had to quickly learn and master new skills.
From Endoscopy and Day care surgery to accident and emergency. From surgery to Intensive Care and elderly care and gastroenterology to respiratory care. Staff have been redeployed from services where all but emergency provision has been temporarily postponed due to the pandemic.
One such redeployed member of staff is Lynsey Hetherington.
Lynsey is the Trust’s Musculoskeletal Service Lead and Musculoskeletal Podiatrist. Usually working with patients with complex lower limb, ankle or foot problems. She is now managing the team of Oxygen Runners at University Hospital of North Tees.
Lynsey and her new team, made up of staff around the Trust including podiatrists, podiatric surgeons, audiologists, health care assistants, radiographers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapist, nurses and physiotherapists, monitor the flow and usage of medical oxygen throughout the hospital.
She said: “There’s been a significant increase in the use of oxygen for patients due to COVID-19. So with my usual musculoskeletal service temporarily curtailed, I was asked to lead the oxygen runners.
“It’s a completely different role. But I thought that if the Trust had the confidence in me to do this, then I had the confidence as well.
“We all want to help our patients as much as possible. We all want to be able play a part in that, even if it’s doing a completely different job to our usual role.
“To start, we monitor the main supply of liquid oxygen for intubated and non-intubated patients. Making sure the clinical staff have the oxygen they need so they can make decisions on purely medical grounds. Without being concerned about oxygen supplies.
“We’ve been learning everyday as the situation changes. We have to request each patient’s oxygen levels and follow some complex calculations. This helps to establish how much liquid oxygen is being used.
“The team have been tremendous. Many of them are usually based in the community and this is their first time working in a hospital environment or working shifts as this is a 24/7 job. Some were in PPE and supporting patients with COVID-19 within a day.
“They’ve showed real courage and I’m so proud of them.”
Staff redeployment will continue throughout North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.