There was something of a new look to clinical areas around Blackpool Victoria Hospital last week.
To ensure patient safety during the junior doctors’ withdrawal of labour, staff with a registered clinical qualification provided a workforce pool to support wards and departments on April 26 and 27.
And this meant office based nursing staff donning uniforms once again and returning to patient areas.
And although on strike, many of the Trust’s junior doctors were involved, in conjunction with the hospital resuscitation team, in giving Basic Life Support training to staff and the public outside Blackpool Victoria’s main entrance.
Head of Resuscitation, Tony Freestone, said: “The junior doctors have made a fantastic opportunity during the strike to benefit both the workforce and the general public by offering the skill of resuscitation to all while also supporting their own professional development and clinical skills.”
During the two days they were able to advise scores of patients and visitors about general resuscitation and more than 80 members of staff successfully completed their training for annual revalidation.
To ensure patient safety and care during the junior doctors’ strike period when emergency cover was removed, Assistant Director of Nursing, Tracy Burrell said: “In collaboration with the divisions we identified what were the key competencies our office-based staff have; such as venepuncture, cannulation, IV administration, prescriber qualifications etc and based on that staff were then allocated to appropriate roles on the different wards and locations within the organisation.
“We made sure that where possible almost every ward had additional support. There was a real show of staff unity and support for both each other and the patients to ensure safe, quality care was maintained.”
Office-based staff all said they loved every minute of their temporary roles.
“I worked in A&E for more than 20 years ending as Ward manager before moving on to my new role as a practice development sister,” said Sister Sharon Ellis who was assigned to the Emergency Department. “It’s a bit like riding a bike being back in the unit, you just get back into the saddle. I have enjoyed these two days immensely and it has been a great opportunity to develop staff skills as well.”
In fact, Sharon said the experience had inspired her to undertake some extra shifts back on the ward in her spare time.
Going back to his roots was former matron and now Patient Experience Manager, Andrew Heath.
When he first qualified Andrew worked on Ward 34 and he was back on Tuesday and Wednesday supporting his clinical colleagues.
“This has been a good opportunity to come back to the wards and deliver personal care and see the wonderful treatment patients receive here at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals. I have seen examples of excellent practice on the wards.
“I have really enjoyed it. I worked on this Ward when I first qualified and it’s still a very pleasant team to work with,” Andrew added.
Practice Development Sister, Sharon Vickers said: “I was initially assigned to AMU but the ward was running extremely smoothly. The Ward Managers had done an excellent job and pulled together a good skill mix of staff to ensure patient safety during the strike period. I came down to A&E to catch up with mandatory training, particularly in moving and handling.
“It has been good to get back onto the wards and areas and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It is really good to see the skills that we train in the classroom being practiced on the wards and the junior staff also get to see us putting our skills into practice in a live situation.”
Also back in uniform for 48 hours was Clinical Change Facilitator, Andrew Goacher.
“I have been based on Ward 11 and looking particularly at fall prevention within high risk patients.
“I must admit I have absolutely loved it. Patient care is where my heart is and being back on the wards makes me remember why I work for the NHS,” Andrew added.
“Some of the projects I am about to embark on are pertinent to inpatient beds and care so it has been useful to do this exercise for the day job. I have been impressed with the way staff have coped and it shows how adaptable nurses are. Patient safety has not been compromised at all during this period and that is our main aim.”
Tracy Burrell added: “I want to say a huge thank you to staff who have given up their time from their day jobs because they will have to catch up their work when this period is over.
“We would also like to thank staff in the wards and other clinical areas who have been so welcoming to these non-ward based staff.”
Director of Operations, Pat Oliver, added: “This was a fantastic effort by everyone involved to make sure we had the best response possible for our patients and staff.’’