March 15, 2021 3.42 pm This story is over 15 months old

How Lincolnshire NHS staff coped with re-deployment during COVID-19 pandemic

Meet the unsung heroes behind the county’s COVID-19 effort

Hundreds of non-clinical staff at Lincolnshire’s hospitals were re-deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic to support frontline staff at difficult moments over the past year.

NHS workers across Lincolnshire were given new roles at the height of the pandemic to support clinical staff during crucial moments, such as the vaccination rollout.

These are just five staff members who made the move to support clinical healthcare areas during the coronavirus outbreak, telling their story of just how much life has changed in the last year.

Chris Hebron, e-Learning Program Developer based at Lincoln County Hospital

Chris Hebron “jumped at the chance” to help with the vaccination programme. | Photo: ULHT

“I think, like most people, I could see this wasn’t going away anytime soon so just wanted to do my bit and help where I could. So when my manager asked if I was interested in working in the Lincoln vaccination hub I jumped at the chance.

“During my time in the hub I have done all the various admin roles from welcoming people in at reception to inputting data and making appointments for their second vaccinations, as well as making teas and coffees in the recovery area.

“My main role, though, was as shift coordinator, helping to make sure everything runs smoothly and that everyone knows what they are doing and when, this includes ensuring we have enough vaccinations for the people coming through the doors and everything in between.

“I have loved every moment working in the hub even at the most challenging of times.

“Nicky Thompson the hub manager is excellent and a total professional and it’s been fun working alongside her.

“It’s shown me that no matter what you throw at the NHS, the staff will rise to the challenge and work together to beat it.

“It just makes me very proud and proves we can achieve more if we just work together.

“I’ve learnt not to take anything for granted. Be kind – look out for people, you don’t know what they are going through and that together we are stronger.

“I’d like to say a great big ‘thank you’ to all the amazing staff that have worked in the hub over the last few months. It’s been hard work but it’s been fun and most of all it’s been rewarding. I will miss it and the people.”

Lynda Stockwell, Clinical and Operational lead, based at Princess Royal Sports Arena in Boston

Lynda now leads a team of over 200 people at the large vaccination centre in Boston. | Photo: ULHT

“A year ago, I worked for Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT). This is the organisation who care for individuals living with mental ill health and learning disabilities in our region, who employ around 2500 individuals.

“My job title was Head of Physical Healthcare and Infection Prevention and Control. My day-to-day role was leading a fantastic cohort of 10 staff who looked after the physical health of patients in LPFT’s care.

“The infection prevention and control (IPC) part of my work wasn’t massive as I had an amazing IPC Specialist Nurse in my team …. but things have changed so very much…

“I am now the Clinical and Operational Lead for the mass vaccination centre at the Princess Royal Sports Arena (PRSA) in Boston.

“At the PRSA, we give the COVID-19 vaccination to our local population. I was excited, proud and a little apprehensive taking on this job.

“I now lead a team of over 200 staff, and we vaccinate thousands of people every week. It’s a privilege to be playing a significant part in keeping the community safe and helping us all get to our new normal.”

Sally Robinson, Head of Contracting and Performance based at Lincoln County Hospital

Sally Robinson said her decision to help out on a COVID-19 ward was “tough” but “touching”. | Photo: ULHT

“When I was asked if I could help out it was an automatic response to say yes – anything to make even the slightest bit of positive difference and do my bit.

“I went onto a COVID ward as a ward assistant and worked between the housekeeping and healthcare support worker teams. My favourite part without doubt was spending time with the patients.

“I sat and talked with them, picked up newspapers and treats from the shop for them, helped to get messages to and from loved ones, held phones while they talked with family and friends, held their hands and just listened. It was by far my favourite part – the most emotionally challenging, but my favourite.

“We had a number of very poorly patients on the ward – being a COVID positive ward it was tough. One particular patient was extremely poorly and one day while I was cleaning around his bed area he put his hand out and gestured for me to take it.

“I held his hand and he smiled. He was unable to speak, so we just stayed a while, and I chatted away about my day, the weather and a card he had got on his bedside table from family. It was such a touching and powerful moment – a simple gesture can mean so much.

“I am so much more appreciative now of the pressures our clinical and frontline colleagues are under. You hear about it in meetings, see the stats, watch the news, see the paper headlines, but until you are actually there, on that ward, watching and seeing what they are up against you can’t fully comprehend it.

“I was so changed by my time working on the wards and over the past year. I am now training to become a healthcare support worker and will be a fully-fledged member of our bank staff by the summer.”

Sarah Otter-Thompson, Senior Organisational Development Practitioner, based at Lincoln County Hospital

Sarah Otter-Thompson said the experience reminded her why she works in health care. | Photo: ULHT

“There was a request from the organisation that some areas needed help for non- clinical tasks on the ward. I offered because I thought it was a great chance to gain some new experience, support my hospital colleagues and hopefully help towards a better patient experience.

“I supported the clerk on Ward 6A at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston. I helped to prep notes for doctors rounds, organised patient notes and property and was a general runner for the ward.

“Although we all always work with the patient at the centre of everything we do, this time just reminded me why we all do what we do at ULHT. I got a real experience of the pressures on the ward staff, the tasks to complete and the phone constantly ringing non-stop, from loved ones who were worried about their family member.

“Susan, the ward clerk, was amazing! She was so welcoming from the minute I arrived and when showing me the ropes – nothing felt like a daft question. She was supportive and was incredible with the patients and their family members – kind, compassionate and respectful at all times.

“The whole ward was great and made me feel like one of the team and I thank them for that.

“I will think about things differently when considering how my work impacts all our staff in the future. I will try to find different, more innovative ways to achieve the best we can and I am absolutely reminded that what we all do together has an impact on the patient.

“I think we’ve learnt we all need each other more than we realise, both in terms of NHS colleagues doing what’s needed and pulling together to achieve the best we can but also how much we need those colleagues for support, our friends and our families at home to just have a chat, drink, walk or a hug.

“It has also been a huge reminder to be kind, helpful and grateful every day.”

Saumya Hebbar, Organisational Development Lead, based at Lincoln County Hospital

Saumya Hebbar focused on positivity when she took on her new role. | Photo: ULHT

“We heard there were staffing issues on the wards and that our clinical colleagues had put a call out asking for help, and it just felt like the right thing to do.

“It was a difficult decision, as I have young kids and my husband is also clinical so I did hesitate – but then I thought, we are all in this together, we are one team – so I stepped up and offered my help on Lancaster Ward at Lincoln hospital.

“I did whatever was asked of me and the team were lovely, very welcoming and very conscious that I had no clinical training or background. Within a few hours of observing the team and what they did, I assigned responsibilities to myself. I helped with filing notes, wiping down equipment, helping the housekeepers with serving tea, coffee and meals and answering the telephone.

“I also chatted with patients, ran errands to pharmacy or health records and picked up the iPads used for patients to call home. I averaged 18,000 steps on a six-hour shift so hats off to my clinical colleagues who do this on a daily basis.

“Having done that role, I would recommend for anyone non-clinical do an insight day every six months. The days I spent on the ward have made me question so many assumptions I didn’t realise I had made with regards to my own team, the work we do and the way we deliver it.

“One of our bank housekeepers called Joshua took me under his wing and gave me instructions – told me what’s what and how I could help. He made me feel useful and a part of the team and that was so, so important and helped massively in building my confidence.

“I’ve learnt that life can change in an instant so we need to focus on each day as it comes and take ownership for what we can control. We need to be positive, focus on positive things and people around you and most importantly take care of our own wellbeing.”