The COVID-19 pandemic has required every single area of the NHS to pull together to make sure that we are able to provide the best possible care for all of our patients. It has shown that no one team or individual is more important than another. Without our doctors and nurses we couldn’t be able to provide the lifesaving care, but without our porters taking patients for their scans, our housekeepers and teams cleaning our wards, our catering teams keeping everyone fed and watered, our volunteers and our support staff, things would get tough very quickly.
And there is another team that I was very fortunate to spend some time with the other day. You possibly may never have heard of them, but without their support and dedication over this year, it is fair to say that all of our hospitals would have ground to a halt… and that is our procurement and stores team.
This team of 70 colleagues, is responsible for making sure our hospitals have all of the materials and equipment they need to function and care for patients. Everything from hand sanitiser, to hospital beds, blankets, all of the high-tech kit needed in our operating theatres, intensive care units and everything inbetween. They source and supply absolutely everything, making sure that all of our staff have what they need to be able to perform their part in this mammoth team effort.
During the pandemic they have come into their own. Quietly working their socks off behind the scenes making sure that patients and colleagues have all of the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need. Working out of Lincoln, Pilgrim and Grantham hospitals they secured more than 22million pieces of PPE in the first 11 months of the pandemic alone. This includes facemasks, gloves, gowns, aprons and visors.
Their dedication has seen them work late into the night and most weekends. They have provided colleagues with a 24/7 service that I personally believe has been remarkable. They have driven vans and cars across the country dropping off and collecting supplies when stocks were low. Not only making sure ULHT has what it needs, but also helping out colleagues in neighbouring Trusts so that can continue to provide the care for their patients too.
They wait and unload the daily deliveries – whatever the time of day – and then transport it to wherever it is needed across the Trust. The team have already clocked more than 12,000 miles travelling between Lincoln, Pilgrim, Grantham and Louth hospitals.
They helped to identify issues in the NHS supply chain that resulted in 2million gowns being released into the system nationally in one afternoon, which not only benefitted ULHT but also many other Trusts across the country.
And the template used by the team to keep track of PPE was also adopted by the National Supply Chain for their Trust 360 ‘push’ model. They really have led the way!
Stores and Logistic Manager, Adam Lewis, showed me around the stores at Lincoln. He said: “I cannot speak highly enough of the team we have at ULHT. They have sacrificed time with their own families to make sure that more than 7,500 colleagues and all our patients have the PPE they need and this is in addition to all of the other items we continue to supply. Everyone in the NHS has pushed themselves and gone above and beyond, and will continue to do so for as long as is needed. But I for one and so proud of my team and what we have achieved.”
I couldn’t agree more Adam. For me, the procurement and stores teams are the hidden lifesavers in this pandemic. Without them our hospitals would very quickly stop being able to function. They are not alone in stepping up to face the challenge of COVID-19, but I was personally amazed by what this team continues to achieve. So the next time you are at one of our hospitals and grab a facemask, or sanitise your hands please spare a thought for our procurement and stores team.