Isle of Wight health bosses have been reflecting on the challenging year they have faced through the Covid pandemic.
Kathryn Taylor, head of nursing and part of the ambulance service, can still vividly remember standing in the Emergency Operations Centre when she heard the news the country was going into its first lockdown.
Scary and unknown time
Despite feeling a sense of trepidation, she was relieved the lockdown would protect the country, but recalled the 111 service had already started to see an unprecedented demand.
The pressure on the team was evident, having to rapidly update systems while providing care and reassurance to patients about a disease that, at the time, was scary and unknown.
Taylor: It’s been humbling how they have dealt with this
Having been right at the forefront of the fight against Covid, Kathryn said,
“Myself and all my colleagues in our leadership team have had a genuine fear for the wellbeing of all our staff.
“It has been humbling how they have dealt with this. They have been supported by their families and the public, who have been generous to the service and who have used our resources wisely so we have been able to respond to the sickest patients first.”
No escape from Covid
One of the hardest things in the pandemic, Kathryn found, was that there was no escape from Covid.
She said a major incident can be dealt with and staff debriefed before going home, but the impact of the virus was felt through more aspects of life, such as homeschooling, shielding relatives and, at one point, the lack of food in shops.
“Everyone in the ambulance service family has come to work day after day, with a smile and done their jobs.
“It’s this spirit and resilience that will stay with me long after the worst of Covid is over.”
Barker: A rollercoaster of emotions for everyone
Lynne Barker, head of nursing for patient flow and suite management, said it had been a rollercoaster of emotions for everyone, but a privilege to be a part of the massive shift in the way the NHS and the Isle of Wight NHS Trust work.
“The very visible coming together of different staff groups to support each other has been humbling and each member of staff has gone above and beyond to ensure patients come first.”
Difficult to shut down work life at home
Working in patient flow had been a tremendous challenge, Lynne said, trying to determine the best course of action to maintain patient and staff safety which, at times, was at very short notice.
It had been difficult, however, for Lynne to shut down her work life at home, feeling the pressure from people coming to her for advice.
“This experience has, over the past year, possibly changed all of us.
“I know I now do not take moments of family life for granted any longer and look forward to the times when I can hug family, friends and colleagues.”
The progression to recovery, Lynne said will be very challenging, with things maybe never being quite the same again, but she is proud of what the trust has achieved and is hopeful for the future.
Transformation for mental health and learning disability services
Covid hit at a time where the mental health and learning disability services were starting to undergo a significant transformation.
Dr Chris Ainsworth, deputy director of mental health and learning disability said much like the rest of the trust, new ways of working had been quickly found — staff being redeployed, services relocated and establishing remote workings — while still continuing to deliver care.
Despite the challenges, he said he was struck by the individual resilience and the willingness for teams to pull together and help each other out, with some of the transformation plans accelerated.
While other areas of the trust are thinking about recovery, for the mental health and learning disability teams, the impact of Covid is going to be significant for some time to come, Dr Ainsworth said.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may have been made by OnTheWight. Ed