Due to the Government’s lockdown policy many of our staff are working and supporting our essential services from home.

Clinicians are running outpatient clinics by telephone, radiologists are reporting and running MDTs and many administrative teams are continuing to provide vital support from home.

Here are some of their experiences;

Jo Law, Lead Medical Secretary
“My medical secretarial staff are now all working from home and only coming into the office on a rota basis ensuring social distancing can be maintained. We are fortunate that our clinicians are very supportive and have reduced digital dictations to a minimum to allow us to do proof reading of clinic letters at home. We can call patients by using our mobile phones (as most people have unlimited calls as part of their contract), so by adding 141 at the beginning of the call, the number is blocked. We are able to pick up any voicemails from our laptops and deal with them appropriately. We have all left our printer fobs in envelopes with our names on in the office and the rota’d secretaries who are there, do all the printing and sending out. We all have access to each others in-baskets within Epic, so we can pick up work to help one another where needed. Advice & Guidance has been split between 2 staff members who are in the office, as we cannot access eReferral from home and they are responsible for liaising with the clinicians to get these processed still within the 2 day turnaround (where possible). All the secretary at home needs to do is communicate effectively with the secretaries who are at the office. This has actually increased productivity for sending letters out, as there are fewer interruptions, allowing the secretary to concentrate fully on what they are doing. It is all down to an amazing team effort.”

Beth Potton, Head of Finance, Projects
“A big shout out to the finance team for completing year end accounts with the team working from home – first in my 20 year NHS career! This has been delivered by some great communication between teams using video and conference calls. Benefits of working from home include discovering new technology and having more flexibility to balance work around kids.”

Andi Thornton, Operations Manager Outpatients, Phlebotomy, Patient Transport, Interpretation Services
“We have asked staff to work from home because we haven’t been able to maintain social distancing. I think if done properly there are huge benefits in terms of staff retention, feeling of worth through trust and of course the environmental benefits.

“As the manager, I have set up a daily 30 minute huddle by teleconference which everybody can join and have a chat about what’s going on, share ideas, tell a COVID related joke and so forth. Sometimes they go on for an hour because there something complex to discuss and sometimes 15 minutes, but it’s a good way to get everybody talking. And to be fair, it works really well and I think the communication between my team is actually stronger with it.

“Likewise staff need to be encouraged to not be too tough on themselves. Things happen. I’ve had dogs jump on me during video calls, a spider freak me out on my desk, these things happen. It’s about the work being done not about how it’s done. You may think that the employee needs to send an email when they start working in the morning so you know they are at their desk, but in reality all that does is undermine the confidence of the employee because you don’t trust them. I cannot emphasise how important it is for that trust element – if you are a manager who is a control freak and are constantly emailing or telephoning the employee to make sure they are doing something then both will be unproductive.

“My manager has been overwhelmingly supportive and affords me the flexibility and trust that is needed for someone to work from home. Both the employee and the manager need to be prepared to ask for help and answer respectively.”

Emma Thornberry, Consultant Clinical Psychologist
“We developed a telephone cognitive assessment which we have been using successfully with patients. I have been moved by the gratefulness that patients have shown when we have called them to discuss in detail their non-COVID health issues. We have felt that we have been able to assess people’s cognition successfully and give feedback, and also do some cognitive rehabilitation on the telephone. The feedback we have had from many patients is that they have been delighted that the assessment has gone ahead on the telephone, that they have received their diagnosis/feedback without having to wait until the restrictions are lifted, and that they haven’t had to come in and battle with parking and traffic etc.!”

Joan Milne, Associate Director of Workforce for Leadership and OD
“I’ve become a true convert to working effectively from home! I’ve adapted to telephone and webex meetings and have found it improves meeting structure and chairing. I make sure I touch base daily to keep in contact with my team who are either working from home or now deployed elsewhere. And in working at home on new projects to support our response to COVID 19, I’ve also developed strong working relationships with people/colleagues I have never met before which is extraordinary! I am longing to see everyone again but know I will take the good from this experience into how we work going forward.”

Claire Illingworth, Clinical Psychologist
“The challenges? Feeling disconnected from others and managing other commitments at home. The positives? It’s highlighted how with some creativity, we have kept in close contact with each other and continued to provide a much valued service to patients. We have done an amazing job of continuing to see existing patients and still assessing new referrals. We have also been flexible responding to need –developing new resources and adapting work according to the current situation”