Anna, why did you choose to support the NHS?

As part of the commissioning team for the new hospital, Nuffield Health at St Bartholomew’s, I have worked alongside the Barts Health NHS team for quite some time developing a strong partnership with them. I am also an ex-intensive care nurse so I personally felt it was important to be able to support my NHS colleagues at this difficult time and offer what support I could to help the already stretched NHS teams. I was fortunate that Nuffield Health were willing to support me with this arrangement. Nuffield Health’s new hospital at St Bartholomew’s Hospital opens in the autumn so it feels like a good time to play my part in supporting the NHS now.

Tell us about the role you are doing? What do you enjoy about your role with the NHS?

I have been redeployed as a staff nurse within the Adult Critical Care Unit (ACCU) at Barts Health NHS Trust, looking after critically ill patients, including both those with COVID-19 and those without. It’s an extremely busy environment and the team are often stretched to their limits. However, despite the challenges they remain professional and committed, not only to their patients but to each other, and it is great to be a part of this. The willingness of everyone to muck in and ‘do the right thing’ is very much a Nuffield Health value which we share.

How is your role with the NHS different to your role at Nuffield Health?

A million miles away! My roles within Nuffield Health for the past 7 years have been in an operations or commissioning capacity, focussing on management and project support so going back into a patient-facing environment is challenging. Despite maintaining my clinical registration over the past few years, it’s still tough being back in the NHS after a long time, especially during a pandemic and working night shifts.

Is working for the NHS different to what you expected? If so, in what way?

The current pandemic means that there`s nothing really ‘normal’ about an average day at the moment. The team must be flexible and willing to be moved as required. Even though I have worked for the NHS in the past, the current situation means that this is a whole other ball game when it comes to patient volumes, acuity and activity – you never really know what to expect and every shift is a new challenge.

What would you say to someone else at Nuffield Health who is thinking of supporting the NHS?

I would say to do it as long as you are prepared to be flexible and muck in. The roles we are being asked to support may be very different to those we are used to doing in our day job. Don`t underestimate the value of your commitment and the value of your help at this time. A fresh set of hands is always welcome. Take time to look after yourself too – it is all too easy to get caught up in the pressure and demands of the team but we need to remember that we all have families and a ‘day job’ to go back to. We need to look after each other and make sure we are still fighting fit at the end of this. It’s equally important that we are working within our sphere of expertise/competence and not overstretching ourselves or being asked to do something we aren`t proficient at.

What are the people you are working with like?

The Barts NHS team I am working with are fantastic and very grateful for the help we are providing. They have been working under extraordinary pressure for a very long time so extra help to bolster numbers is appreciated. Someone being redeployed from outside the NHS Trust is definitely a novelty for them! Most of the team have little to no knowledge of what we do in the independent sector, so it’s as much an eye opener for them as for us. Hopefully, we are making some great contacts and relationships for the future and paving the way for more collaborative working further down the line.

Are you working with other Nuffield Health secondees or people who don’t usually work for the NHS?

There are a couple of my Nuffield Health colleagues redeployed within Barts NHS Trust in other roles such as supporting the vaccination clinics, as well as at The Royal London Hospital in supply management and administration roles. There are also other NHS staff redeployed to ACCU from other wards or sites within the NHS Trust who are also having to get used to the new environment. It would be great to all get together when this has settled down, to discuss our experiences and share our learnings.