Graham Walsh

The COVID-19 pandemic was a major shock to the NHS and its impact on the provision of care and services for people with other health needs. Even before large number of COVID-19 hospitalisations, a total of 4.4 million patients were on the waiting list for routine hospital treatment. The pandemic only further increased the waiting lists and pressure on the current infrastructure and staffing levels. Throughout the pandemic, the challenge has been to increase hospital capacity and freeing up beds, which resulted in the cancellation of elective surgery in March 2020 and non-COVID-19 conditions and treatments.

Clinical decisions were happening by the hour to close hospital wards, change them into critical intensive care areas, and re-categorise hospital wings, floors and departments into Red, Yellow and Green zones for high, medium and low risk COVID-19 infection Patients. As such, our teams had to dynamically change our operating service, planning, stock room layouts, PPE management, infection control, staff training, donning and doffing of PPE and overall delivery to the newly adopted practices.

In May 2020, the number of hospitalised COVID-19 cases gradually declined, and our hospitals then considered how to safely return to some form of ‘business as usual’ (BAU), provide care again for all patients requiring it, and reducing patient waiting lists whilst also planning for possible future surges in COVID-19 case numbers. This was a time when Eleanor again had to reinvent themselves and work closely with each NHS Trust to ascertain how to create a dual  operating practice that would see the return of our regular materials management service and maintain the confidence in our PPE and Covid related service. While delivering the usual services, we had to continue stock piling PPE and Covid-19 related inventory at our off-site warehouse in readiness for the anticipated second wave and increased patient numbers during the winter months.

As predicted in November 2020, the second wave came, yet this time around and to add to our NHS teams existing challenges, scientists noticed a surge of cases as a new strain was appearing. It was time again to prepare our next challenge, and whilst nobody in our team had really felt COVID had ever left us, we knew that this time around our NHS and Eleanor staff had a vast repository of Covid-19 related clinical and operational knowledge and a good supply of PPE. However, we were still figuring out how the new strain and surge in in-patient admissions impact our collective response.

Through a carefully coordinated efforted by our Eleanor and NHS team, which included additional working hours throughout the month of November and December (yes, even the festive periods!) Christmas and the New Year went off without a hitch for our customers. As we moved into the New Year, it was evident that despite all our precautionary measures, which include social distancing, hand washing/gelling, PPE donning and multiple aspects of infection control protocols, a proportion of our dedicated hospital teams contracted Covid-19 (after a period of 10 months without a single case).

Times like this remind us of the enduring partnership we have built with our NHS customers. So how did they react when we started to see a rapid reduction in our staff resources? Of course, we pulled on other staff resources within our business and work agencies, but what happened next was simply a beautiful show of mutual respect and empathy from our NHS colleagues.

They looked at their own NHS trust staff resources, and in close dialogue with our management teams, they made a plan to cover areas and specific tasks until such time that our staff can recuperate and return to the hospital. In other words, never a thought of anything else other than ‘lets all help each other’.

This pandemic period makes us realize that whilst this is an unprecedented situation for us all, and presents a number of health and wellbeing challenges, we have all still shown remarkable grit and desire to adapt and cope. Kudos to you all!

Latest News

Five Questions

Five Questions With… ISABELLA NASIMIYU A GREENWICH CARER. An Interview by Abimbola Abiola

Dear Chief Pharmacists

/ #Eleanor Hospital Logistics

No stone has been left unturned, and you now have your own online user log in to view your Trust, hospitals and departments’ Pharmacy fluid performance and service data.

Why are IV fluids important?

/ #Eleanor Hospital Logistics

IV fluids help maintain a patient’s hydration, electrolyte and blood sugar levels while undergoing surgical procedures.

View all