Ambulance service ‘inundated’ with support as 100 former members of staff return to work in Sussex

Up to 100 former members of staff have returned to work for South East Coast Ambulance Service during the coronavirus pandemic.

SECAmb said it has been ‘inundated’ with messages of support and offers of assistance in recent weeks, as staff and volunteers in the trust’s 999 and 111 operations centres and out on the road continue to work hard under huge pressures.

The ambulance service also thanked the public for their continued support and is urging everyone to continue to closely follow the government’s coronavirus guidance.

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Executive director for nursing and quality and the trust’s executive Covid-19 lead, Bethan Eaton-Haskins said: “It has been truly humbling to see the support from the public during these unprecedented times.

“This support, whether it be a message of thanks on social media, or an offer to help with resources or provide staff with help with their day-to-day living, it is all really appreciated. A small gesture goes a very long way and will be remembered.

“The single best way people can continue to support us, the wider NHS, its partner organisations and the whole country, however, is to follow the rules we must all abide by to limit the spread of the virus.”

SECAmb placed on record its gratitude to staff who have returned to work for the trust to increase its operational capabilities in the coming weeks.

A spokesman said: “In the region of 100 staff are returning to SECAmb on bank contracts to respond to patients.

SECAmb's executive Covid-19 lead Bethan Eaton-Haskins said it has been 'truly humbling' to see the support from the public during these 'unprecedented times'. Courtesy of @SECAmbulance

“A number of existing non-operational staff have adapted their roles to provided additional support to the operations team and volunteers have provided assistance in a variety of ways further support the Trust’s frontline response."

While ‘maximising the trust’s ability’ to respond to patients across its region, SECAmb has also responded to a mutual aid request from London Ambulance Service, providing 10 ambulances with crews to assist the capital response to Covid-19 initially for the next fortnight.

Bethan added: “I know I am speaking for the whole trust Board when I say thank you to all our staff and volunteers for the way in which they have responded. As a service we have adapted to new ways of working, quicker than ever before, and risen to new challenges every day.

"Everyone can be extremely proud of the way in which they have responded to this ever-changing situation.”

'It is humbling to be able to give something back'

Meanwhile, SECAmb has teamed up with charity, the Jumbulance Trust, to adapt a vehicle to assist with multiple patient transfers between hospital.

The trust has commissioned the charity to provide a vehicle which it has adapted further to meet its specification.

A spokesman said: “Traditionally the accessible holidays and travel charity uses its Jumbulance medically-equipped coach vehicles, which are fitted with stretchers, to give those with disabilities and severe illnesses, and other significantly dependent individuals, the opportunity to travel in safety and comfort across the UK and Europe.

"The charity will provide drivers for the vehicle, who have undergone additional training, while the vehicle will be crewed by critical care paramedics. The vehicle, which will be used in the coming weeks as required, will be able to transport up to five stretchered patients at a time – avoiding multiple trips by different ambulance crews."

The SECAmb adaptations include the fitting of a bulkhead aluminium frame to protect the driver, updating the stretchers, sealing off all fabric surfaces so they can be easily wiped clean and for improved infection control, fitting a piped oxygen system and installing clinical waste bins and hand gel dispensers.

Associate director of operations, resilience, Ian Shaw said: “I am pleased that we have been able to work with the Jumbulance Trust and commission the charity to help with our Covid-19 response and prepare for the potential increase in demand.

"The role of these vehicles is usually very different and we are pleased that we have been able to adapt one of their vehicles to help with our response. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this important collective work to help patients.”

Jumbulance Trust chairman Gill Berry said it was 'humbling' to be able to give something back and 'use our resources in this way', adding: "We are proud that Jumbulance Trust, a small volunteer-led charity with specialist vehicles and dedicated staff, can help SECAmb with multiple patient transfers.

"I would also like to add a huge thanks to all involved for their commitment to making this happen.”

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