Experiences of the pandemic from our FACE leads
Some of our Finance and Clinical Educator Leads have kindly put together their experiences of the teaching clinicians during the pandemic. Read their stories below:
Pam Kaur, Commercial Finance Manager at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
“What an interesting year for the NHS as we have all been affected and tirelessly responded to a Global Pandemic. As I write this, firstly I would like to reach out to all my national colleagues and hope that they, their families and loved ones are all keeping safe and well. As the world has changed, so has the function of NHS finance; from delivering PPE to clinical areas at the start of the Pandemic to supporting our colleagues in the restoration of services. We have been malleable in performing our duties and responding to the needs of our clinical colleagues in some cases attending daily clinical huddles to get a better understanding of the pressures they face. Then we have also embraced the use of Microsoft teams, and requirements to work from home, where face to face engagement has not been possible, technology has really opened up new possibilities.
At UHCW, the decision was made for finance staff to continue being visible at the Trust throughout the Pandemic with a hybrid model of staff balancing working on site and working at home during their normal working week. This model has been successful whilst meeting national guidance around social distancing, isolation and staff risk assessments around being on site. As we are slowly returning to a new normality, UHCW finance team have continued to focus on achieving their next stage of FFF Accreditation. One aspect that has been at the heart of this has been supporting the well-being of our finance staff. This is very timely given that staff well-being has begun to become the focus organisation wide as well as country wide as we now respond to resilience, rest and restoration.
Our response to staff well-being has included holding a number of conversations both with the Finance Department as a whole and individual touch base meetings, in the form of a “coffee and a chat”, between two or three finance colleagues to check in on how they are doing. This was a direct outcome of the responses we received to our finance staff well-being surveys and we have since set up a staff health and well-being Group within our finance department with input from the UHCW health and well-being department. Also, we have really cemented the way by holding weekly Monday Morning Motivation sessions since the 1st March which offer staff half an hour every Monday Morning to promote relaxation, mindfulness and motivation for their day and their week ahead. The sessions are repeated every Friday lunch time for staff to reflect on their week and also to wind down and Welcome in the Weekend – this has gathered interest from non-financial colleagues across the Trust!
In addition, to support well-being and mindfulness, the finance team at UHCW are leading the way at the Trust by participating in an interactive programme that provides guidance on coaching conversations and mentoring so that we have the skills to assist our colleagues through their personal and professional journey.
Having the delivered the World’s first CV19 vaccine outside of trials, you may also have noticed that UHCW are featured on BBC2 Hospital series which started airing on 11th May at 9pm. This amazing documentary continues to help us to humbly appreciate all the tireless work that our NHS and healthcare colleagues across the Country and the Globe continue to do to save lives and continue to make us proud to be part of the NHS family.
So from delivering PPE to providing well-being to staff, the FACE of finance really has responded to the ever changing backdrop of the NHS….
Finally, I wish all teams across the UK good health, safety and resilience as we move into the next phases of restoration.”
Beth Pidduck, Finance Transactions Manager at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
“I have worked in the NHS for almost 7 years now and during those years I’ve worked through some challenging times, but nothing I’ve faced compares to the past 15 months. To take it back to 2019, I returned to work from maternity leave in April and after less than 3 weeks back at work contracted meningitis. I only returned 6 months later in October and decided to take on a secondment, crazy, I know. With the exception of 3 weeks I had been away from work for 17 months – could I even remember how to do my own job? Never mind take on something completely different! However, I love a challenge and upon returning to work it was exactly what I needed. There was me thinking that would be the most difficult thing for the year ahead…
During January and February 2020, Coronavirus was looming. No-one was really sure what was going to happen and as everyone was approaching the busiest time of the year I was already underway working on two large projects. I finished work for a week’s annual leave and took my laptop home, expecting maybe a couple of weeks at home whilst it all blew over. I was so naïve as I think we all were. From March to August I worked from home full time with my toddler in tow. I was in a new role, completing new tasks I’d never done before and was isolated until support bubbles were formed. The support I received from my team was immense but it was still so hard, plus being a single parent was pressure on top. It has, however, taught me a lot about myself and my resilience. It’s also taught me that meetings, journals and reporting are irrelevant to a toddler…when it’s lunchtime, it’s lunchtime!
Keeping in touch with my colleagues has been so important and I’ve loved the MS Teams games we have played alongside our weekly huddle catch up meetings. I feel like despite it being such a difficult time, even more so for our frontline staff, we need to remember to reflect on the positive things that have come from it. Some now have the ability to work more flexibly as we were forced to make change to our processes to accommodate not being able to see colleagues face to face. This has been beneficial for a number of situations including how we train our budget holders and how we interact with the wider Trust. We have learned to understand the importance of being a team and have realised just how precious time is and how not to take such basic things for granted.
When I think about the pandemic, I think back to when the midwives and surgeons at my Trust delivered my daughter under traumatic and complicated circumstances. I was proud. Less than a year later, when doctors treated my brain infection and saved my life, I was proud. Yet never have I been prouder than during COVID-19. We have made it through such unprecedented times and are all so strong. Here is to you all.”
David Rebelo, Head of Income – Financial Planning & Strategy at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
“The call came around the 25th of March 2020 and the office which used to hold 70+ people became almost deserted. That first weekend a number of finance colleagues started by helping out as Intensive Care runners, helping to answer phones, going down to stores and pharmacy to name a few of the duties. It was a shock to the system to see our clinicians in full PPE for hours, but also rewarding that we stepped away from our spreadsheets and into the wards to help with the job at hand. The range of tasks changed throughout the year and the stages of the pandemic but what became very clear as restrictions on wards were put in place was the need for roles such ward helps to offer patients a friendly face to talk to during mealtimes. I was able to spend some time helping our patient and put a face to what before was only an HRG.
Months went by and we became more and more used to our new routines and more focus shifted towards our mental and physical wellbeing. Some teams grew closer by the ability to share screens rather than huddle around a desk and even our coffee breaks went virtual. Who would thought in a million years that we could do year-end audits virtually? Not only we did one but are on our second one. This experience has really shown us how much we can do with technology, and how much we value our colleagues and patients. Let’s keep the lessons’ learnt and improve on them for a better and brighter future for the NHS.”