Caroline Knox, Trust’s Health Records Manager and Acting Deputy General Manager for Outpatients 

Caroline Knox, is the Trust’s Health Records Manager and Acting Deputy General Manager for Outpatients.

She told us about the impact of Covid-19 on their team, and why staff health and wellbeing has been a priority for them over the past few months.

How has Covid-19 affected you and the team?

We realised very quickly that outpatients needed to be stepped down at speed, which was very challenging for staff and created a level of anxiety and uncertainty. We were trying to move to virtual appointments quickly, but at the same time, there was anxiety about the patients who were still coming in.

Thanks to the hard work of lots of teams, we became digital in a matter of weeks. However this did put a lot of pressure on staff as they had to adapt to a new way of working.

Alongside this, staff were questioning if they were key workers – the majority of the team are administrative staff but we do have nurses as well which is more clear cut.

Tell us about some of the health and wellbeing work you’ve been involved with? 

We initially started with Time to Talk sessions within the department, which brought staff together and allowed us to answer their questions and provide updates to put their mind at ease.

Because we have staff across a number of sites it was important for us to run the sessions at Queen Mary’s and the Nelson, as well as virtual sessions for staff working from home.

We took questions away and sent follow up emails for after the meeting for the benefit of staff who couldn’t attend – a number of nursing staff were redeployed so we wanted to reach out to them, and those working from home, to make them feel part of the team.

To help with the anxiety around commuting and food shopping we flexed working hours to accommodate the needs of staff.

We wanted to make sure that our staff who aren’t as visible were recognised as well, so we made a point of distributing the St George’s Hospital Charity bags to everyone, and we set up an NHS Heroes Award. If you feel someone deserves recognition, you can nominate them for a certificate.

Have you accessed any of the Trust wide support on offer? 

It was difficult for staff to get to the drop-in sessions held at the Phoenix Centre, so we contacted staff support who arranged sessions for staff and for managers at both St George’s and Queen Mary’s

These were really well received and we were able to pick up issues that we weren’t aware of and could then focus on.

What has been the reaction from staff? 

The staff feel really supported and are far more willing to talk to us and raise concerns. We’ve communicated with them more since Covid-19 than ever before and we’re keen to keep it going.

We hope it shows just how valued they are.