NHS staff in north Cumbria are uniting together to help fight the Coronavirus.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, staff at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC) have been pulling out all the stops to ensure the safety of patients and of their colleagues is met.

Staff have been adapting quickly and evolving the way they work to support the demands required.

Theatre staff at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven have set up a new Level 4 Intensive Care Unit to help battle the Coronavirus. They have transformed the former day surgery unit at the hospital in preparation.

Mark Holliday, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine and Anaesthesia, said:

“The staff as a whole have embraced what has been a whirlwind change involving a lot of challenges.

“Every department in the hospital has risen to the occasion and helped make this possible from the domestic staff to the pharmacy and everyone in between.

“Particular mention would need to go to Katrina Moffat who has been the nurse leading and co-ordinating this change as well as to Steve Dougan and the estates team who have transformed the day surgery unit in to the new Intensive Care Unit.”

Fighting the Coronavirus has led to many of the Trust’s health services quickly changing the way they work to deliver care for patients. Many services are conducting their appointments either online, over the phone or by video conferencing. Other teams have also been changing the way they work and have become extremely versatile.

Zoe Larmour, ICC manager for Cockermouth and Maryport, said:

“My team have said they feel they have had tremendous support and a better working relationship with their GP colleagues.

“The rehab team have worked collaboratively with other agencies and shared exercise sheets which can be handed out to patients self isolating to keep them mobile.

“These are being shared with patients and GP surgeries who have been cascading the information as well as Maryport Smile Facebook page and Maryport Matters.

“We also received the shout out on the radio from a patient who wanted to show their appreciation to the Maryport team and the community teams who are ringing round checking up on patients they commented they were “worth their weight in gold”.

Rachel Jamieson, ICC support manager, said:

“There is astounding work that is currently happening between primary and community care teams.

“They are working collaboratively and rapidly adopting new ways of working. Many staff and services are swiftly relocating to accommodate necessary changes to the way that primary care and outpatient services are delivered.

“There is an amazing feeling of camaraderie and determination amongst the integrated teams.

“We would also like to extend our thanks to our support services who are working around the clock to help us implement changes and new systems in a very short space of time.”

Professor Matt Phillips, Clinical Director Sexual Health said:

“In sexual health we have been very used to seeing people face to face for everything we do - even just conversations. Thinking about social distancing and self isolation has meant we have changed to telephone consultations - which saves people time and travel and we will think about how we do more of this in the future.”

Mike Lennon, audiology manager at the Cumberland Infirmary, said changes had to be made to the way his department works and staff had written to patients outlining the changes.

He said:

“The staff have collaborated brilliantly in more or less redesigning a service based on over 10,000 open access face to face contacts a year and dealing with some of our most vulnerable patients so that we can reach out and support them in their homes.”

We would also like to say a huge thanks to our colleagues in primary care who have transformed the way they work into a telephone first system, and are creating ‘red centres’ to support patients who may have COVID-19 in the community.

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