The resilience and resourcefulness of providers through COVID-19

07 October 2020

While trust leaders are all too aware of the disruption some patients faced while the health service focused on COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic, we should never overlook the extraordinary achievements of NHS trusts and foundation trusts, and their staff, over the past seven months.

In the third report in our Providers Deliver series, Providers Deliver: Resilient and resourceful through COVID-19, we showcase eight examples of great ideas put into action by trusts through the sheer dedication and ingenuity of staff. It demonstrates how – in unprecedented circumstances during the time of COVID-19 – providers are delivering.

One of the main themes in the report is the value of staff empowerment, where trust leaders support ideas and approaches developed within their workforce. Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust successfully set up a COVID-19 home visiting team in three days, while Countess of Chester Hospital Foundation Trust implemented a trust-wide medical roster to re-deploy staff to where bolstered capacity was needed. By empowering staff, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust set up a scheme to adapt respiratory equipment in sleep apnoea to treat people with COVID-19, which could now potentially benefit patients around the world.

Innovation is another consistent thread through the report, with many trusts meeting national challenges through creative solutions.

   

Innovation is another consistent thread through the report, with many trusts meeting national challenges through creative solutions. Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust overcame the obstacle of severe shortages of isolation gowns through a notable collaboration with industry experts and major textile manufacturers. Problem-solving was also evident at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust where people were reassured it is safe to come to hospital through the deployment of thermal imaging cameras.

Additionally, many trusts worked with new partners across systems. At Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, the team set up an urgent mental health care hub which drew on advice from patients to create an environment that was as safe and comfortable as possible, and worked with acute and ambulance trusts, social care and housing teams to provide a holistic approach. London Ambulance Service NHS Trust worked closely with Virgin Airlines and British Airways staff to support call handling operations, harnessed the skills of AA mechanics to keep the ambulance fleet on the road, turned to neighbouring ambulance services to help cope with demand, and used firefighters alongside their clinicians to increase the number of vehicles they could deploy. Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust worked with a private hospital to increase bed capacity for end of life care, providing specialist advice for staff who were not used to this type of challenge. This meant patients were provided with a peaceful environment and care that would not have been available in a COVID site.

We expect to see more remarkable innovations like these as the NHS once again rises to the challenge ahead.

   

These case studies provide just a flavour of what was accomplished by NHS trusts through the pandemic. Looking forward, as we face a potential perfect storm of a COVID cases, winter pressures and a potential no deal Brexit, we expect to see more remarkable innovations like these as the NHS once again rises to the challenge ahead.

Commenting on the report, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery said:

“Staff from right across the workforce have been phenomenal in their response to this unprecedented challenge.

“Alongside frontline clinicians, staff from human resources, estates, IT, and communications among others took on new roles to support the response to the virus and worked relentlessly to keep COVID and non-COVID patients safe.

“We saw doctors, nurses and allied health professionals from every part of the NHS move across to care for patients with the virus.

“In the face of the biggest challenge the NHS has ever faced, staff working in hospitals, mental health, community and ambulance services showed inspirational commitment, skill and compassion in the way they overcame the difficulties they faced.

“Our new report is just a glimpse into their extraordinary achievements over the past seven months. No one can be in any doubt we will need to see a similar spirit of innovation to overcome the challenges ahead.”

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