Trust thanks staff for support to keep services running

Posted on Wed, 31/03/2021

The Trust is marking the one-year anniversary of its on-site testing unit – and is thanking all of the staff from across the organisation who have helped keep our services running.

The Patient Covid Assessment Service (PCAS) was set up at the start of the pandemic to carry out COVID tests on staff and their bubbles, as well as patients. It now operates a 7-day service, with a drive-through testing area.

Staff from across the Trust have worked as part of the service at various times over the last year – and have helped it accomplish an amazing amount of work.

Since opening on 31st March 2020, it has carried out more than 30,000 tests, including:

  • More than 6,000 serology tests

  • More than 15,000 COVID PCR tests for patients for pre-elective or diagnostic admission screening

  • Nearly 10,000 COVID PCR tests for staff and their households or bubbles

  • Fit-tested more than 4,000 staff for specialist PPE

Andy Beeby, medical director, said: "It’s been a phenomenal effort from staff across the organisation – and PCAS is a shining example of what the Gateshead NHS family is capable of when we pull together in tough times. I want to thank every single member of staff who has helped to keep PCAS going, you should all be very proud of yourselves."

"People from teams all over the Trust rose to the challenge of providing this vital service over the last 12 months, which has helped us maintain quality care for our patients. Testing our staff and their ‘bubbles’, as well as our patients, has had an incredible impact, meaning that we could keep vital services running like elective operations and outpatients."

Mary Brown, administration services manager, said: "When we started working in PCAS a year ago we all thought it would just be for a few weeks until the first lockdown ended but a year on we are just as busy as we were at the start. Providing admin cover 7 days a week has been a challenge but luckily everyone on the team has been flexible and accommodating, working extra and changing shifts at short notice and the camaraderie has kept us all going (not to mention all the cake we’ve eaten!). We all feel privileged to have been able to play our part providing an essential service to staff and patients."

Sandra Currer, a staff nurse from surgical pre-assessment was part of the first group of staff to support the unit along with other key staff from the pre-assessment team. She said: "It was quite daunting and we were all scared. We didn’t understand how bad it was or was going to be. It took us all out of our comfort zone and it was hard in the beginning. But we pulled together as a team and we were all in it together. Overall it was a huge achievement."

Nicola Cairns adds: "I was part of the PCAS team from last June until October and they are a fantastic bunch of people. I normally work in pods as a surgical nurse recovering post-operative patients and discharging them. In PCAS I was swabbing asymptomatic patients and symptomatic staff for covid and I was also taking bloods from hospital and care staff to check for antibodies."

Coleen Knox, HR business partner, said: "I have learned so much working with all the staff who support PCAS, and I have the greatest respect for their dedication, hard work, and flexibility. It has not been easy and there have been many long hours, but I am so proud to be associated with the service and to see how it has helped keep our staff and patients safe, and ensure we continue to provide the best possible care."

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