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Thank You - Horton Theatres

19/06/2020
A group of 10 uniformed staff in surgical masks, seated apart in an operating theatre

We'd like to take a moment to tell you about the Horton General Hospital Operating Theatres Team - a team that has undergone some major changes over the past few months.

At the beginning of our COVID-19 response, our Anaesthetics and Recovery Theatre Practitioner Team began a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week rota, to ensure support for the team at the Horton responsible for 'intubation' - the procedure that is necessary in order to place a patient on a ventilator, and transferring of these patients to Oxford by ambulance. Anyone not on that rota transferred to Oxford, to support the operating theatres at the Churchill Hospital.

The Scrub Practitioners, who normally run the theatres lists during operations, were redeployed to the Horton Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit, acquiring new skills for roles very different to their normal roles in theatres.

As well as ensuring that the Horton had the skilled and flexible workforce it needed to tackle the challenges ahead, it has also been vital to source the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and teach staff how to use it correctly.

With the help of designated PPE Hub Co-ordinator Dawn Bennett, who was able to liaise with staff in Oxford, and Practice Development Nurse Charlotte Merriman, all staff who needed PPE not only received the right equipment, but also the correct guidance and training to use it safely.

Theatres Administrator - and designated PPE Hub Co-ordinator - Dawn says: 

"I only started in this role in January. They are the friendliest of colleagues, and welcomed me with such open arms. I have seen how hard-working they all are, and they deserve some recognition for the great work they have done and how they have pulled together as a team.

"Manager Karen Wentworth-Foster is an absolute asset to the department; she is so supportive and approachable. We can talk to her any time and we are always kept informed. Where team members have been redeployed to other areas away from their usual place of work, Karen has often gone to visit them in their redeployed workplace to provide support.

"We all just take each day as it comes, with great support for one another."

Three months on, the team is slowly returning to the Horton operating theatres. Trauma surgery, which has been carried out in the Ramsay building on the Horton site during the crisis, is starting up again in the Horton theatres, and two specialties new to Horton theatre staff, emergency endoscopy and ECT, are giving them the opportunity to prove how flexible they are, and how quickly they have learned new skills.

Sara Randall, OUH Chief Operating Officer, says:

"The strength of our response to COVID-19 has been the willingness of our staff to step forward into new, unfamiliar territory, re-train and support their colleagues where this help has been most needed.

"To have such a flexible and adaptable workforce has been a true blessing and we sincerely appreciate all they have done."

Thank you, Horton Theatres, for your team spirit over the last few months - you are a great team.

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