In the year of the nurse and midwife where the medical profession has taken centre stage, the cabinet member for health and wellbeing in Slough, Cllr Natasa Pantelic, virtually met with local people working in healthcare to hear their experiences of the pandemic and discuss the future.
Cllr Pantelic virtually met with senior staff as well as frontline nurses and midwives, from Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust which operates Wexham Park Hospital in Slough.
Items discussed included how to encourage more of the borough’s young people to consider the medical profession and the pathways into it, public health hygiene, how staff are preparing practically and mentally for the winter months, as well as their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Cllr Pantelic told the professionals: “On behalf of every resident in Slough, I want to say a massive thank you for all of your amazing work over the past months which have no doubt been gruelling.
“I am really keen to explore how the council and other settings could help with getting more young people into the profession and particularly interested to explore different ways in which qualifications can be gained.
“Whether that is raising awareness of the routes into different medical professions, through working with you, or looking at apprenticeships, we want to help Wexham Park Hospital as it is so very important to Slough.”
Professionals at the virtual meeting spoke about how they dealt with the coronavirus pandemic from preparation and demand on the Intensive Care Unit to nurses being deployed to other unfamiliar departments.
The maternity unit operated at its normal capacity as “babies come when they come” with all nurses and midwives finding the hands off approach a challenge.
Nurse Elizabeth said: “The members of this profession are incredibly talented, passionate and compassionate and as a hands-on profession, it was hard to maybe not be so hands on. We had to rely on virtual consultations and be more aware of contact with patients in particular in ICU at a time when they were all alone.
Staff who “performed on adrenaline for four months” are now looking for more psychological, health and well being assistance as preparations are made for the busy winter months ahead.
Infection control nurse Jenny hoped one legacy of the virus will be a renewed observance of hygiene related routines being ingrained in adults and children as they grow up, like washing hands.
Operation department practitioner Colin said he appreciated the conversation being started by the council and welcomed the relationship, support and passion of Cllr Pantelic, which would “go a long way” to help the medical profession.
Lorna Wilkinson, Frimley Health Chief Nurse, thanked Cllr Pantelic for arranging the meeting.