Forth Valley NHS staff's flexibility and creativity praised by bosses

Dealing with ever changing COVID-19 guidelines and adapting the way they work to fit any situation is becoming commonplace for NHS Forth Valley staff.

At yesterday’s NHS Forth Valley briefing, Doctor Andrew Murray, Forth Valley medical director, said: “I have been doing this for 32 years and I have never seen anything like this. People have had to be flexible and creative and we have seen fantastic examples of this.

“For the vast majority this has been a change for everyone on a day to day basis. They have had to think differently, have to move into different roles and have to adapt to them.

“We have got to support our front line staff and there has been a huge amount of positive responses. We have thousands of employees and they have to follow the government guidance that comes in.

NHS Forth Valley bosses were full of praise for staff's hard work

“It’s important we get guidance that is consistent, because if it is not, then that cause stress for staff. We also have a range of things to support staff, acknowledging how tough a situation this is for them

“There is always more that we can do in certain circumstances. ”

Doctor Murray said an ethical advisory group had been set up to help staff deal with any difficulties they may face with their patients due to the coronavirus situation.

“If any staff member has an ethical dilemma they can get support,” added Doctor Murray.

Responding to news the loss of sense of taste and sense of smell – or anosmia – were now classed as official coronavirus symptoms along with persistent coughing and high temperatures, Doctor Murray said staff had been aware of these signs for some time.

“It’s not completely new to our clinicians – there just needed to be a certain level of evidence before they became official symptoms. The key symptoms have been around from day one.

“Our clinicians are often talking about things and it is often no surprise when we have some new information and vice versa. These new offical symptoms are not that surprising for clincial staff.”

During the briefing The Falkirk Herald relayed a question from a member of the public, who asked why a nurse who was displaying COVID-19 symptoms had to be sent home to self isolate for seven days, while her colleagues – who she had been working with – were still allowed to stay at work?

Doctor Murray said: “People can work alongside each other and not be infected.”

Doctor Graham Foster, Forth Valley public health director, added: “Social distancing is always in place in the hospital and staff wash their hands and wear PPE – that’s what stops the spread between staff. If anyone gets unwell they do go home and self isolate.

“All of us have to behave as if our colleague is incubating COVID-19. There shouldn’t be anyone in close contact in workplaces.”

Doctor Foster said the issue of COVID-19 in care homes was something that was demanding a lot of attention in the area.

“We are aware of the challenges around care homes and keeping the most vulnerable people safe. This is a virus which may have a minor effect on eight out of ten people, but for the elderly and the vulnerable it may be quite serious.

“When the virus does enter a care home we have seen it does cause serious outbreaks and it’s difficult to control once it’s in there. We have seen a number of outbreaks across Scotland in care homes.

“We have had tremendous support from our local partners and the care home strategy group, made up of groups including the health and social care partnership and the NHS board, meet every single day.

“We should say that more than two thirds of care homes are COVID-19 free.”

The next NHS Forth Valley briefing is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, May 27.