Theatre team share new role in intensive care helping colleagues care for Covid-19 patients

Across the NHS, innovation and transferring skills has been pivotal in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. As routine day surgeries are postponed, three colleagues in theatres at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust have found a new role in intensive care.

Operating department practitioners (ODPs) Simon Peck and JohnLeaver, and operating department orderly Lawrie Turner have been helping colleagues in intensive care with ‘proning’ Covid-19 patients, which means turning them onto their front to assist their breathing.

They’ve even been called upon to help train colleagues in the procedure.

Simon, also a practice education facilitator so is used to training others, said: “We’re proning patients daily in theatres, for things such as spinal surgeries, so we’re well-versed at it and it seemed natural for us to do it.

The idea came from our Intensive Care team and we’ve just made some slight adjustments. We’re used to doing different stuff as our jobs can change on a daily basis and we need to be adaptable. While we couldn’t have predicted this, it’s just another thing for us to do.

It’s also given Simon, Lawrie and John, who have worked together for almost a decade, a renewed sense of purpose at a challenging time.

John, who’s worked at the Trust since 1989, added: “As routine surgeries have been postponed while we deal with this, it meant we weren’t as busy as we usually would be. So it feels better to be able to go and do this. We’re doing what we normally do, but a little bit differently.

It’s really nice to be able to work with other teams. We’re working in ITU daily and it’s remarkably calm with everyone working together. We also get to see the strengths of other colleagues too, like how much our physios are doing for our patients.”

Their usual roles see them supporting our colleagues in theatres, ensuring equipment is ready, machines are tested and everything is safe for our patients ahead of their operations.

Lawrie said: “Our work can be physically and mentally challenging, especially now. So it’s great that we have a good social side in our team. We sit and eat lunch together and take time to talk to one another. Of course there are times it can be stressful at the moment so we’re really supporting each other.”

Theatre staff at Queen’s hospital.

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