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Thank You - Relatives Liaison Team

14/07/2020

Today we are joining Oxford Hospitals Charity to thank over 160 medical students who have been volunteering in our hospitals during COVID-19.

The students, all part of the University of Oxford Medical School, took on a range of supportive roles including assisting our clinicians with putting on and taking off their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) safely, and helping with our staff testing programme - as well as raising over £17,000 for our charity and SeeSaw. 

5th Year Medical Students Sanah, Catherine, Dervla, Eleanor, Ryan and Sam were expecting to complete their specialty training this year, with a series of lectures, clinical placements and exams.

Instead, in March, they found themselves part of our Relatives Liaison Team.

This is the team which has been providing the daily phone calls and updates to families of patients in our intensive care units (ICU) with COVID-related illnesses, and arranging video calls for those well enough to speak to their loved ones.

None of them had had any real experience of ICU before, except from maybe a brief ward round visit, so at first it was a daunting experience for them: they had much to learn, and went through a whole range of emotions.

Learning so much, so fast, and experiencing the full pressures of the NHS front line, has been a real challenge for them, and one that will shape their future careers and have a real impact on the doctors they will become. They will never forget this period of their lives.

Sanah says:

"We have been humbled by every relative we spoke to over the last few months. We recognise how difficult this time has been to all of them, and we are very thankful for how understanding and considerate they have been.

"Some relatives and patients have written to us, to thank us for what we have done, and we have received emails from some members of staff in ICU to commend us for our work too.

"We really appreciate it, but are very aware that it is us who should be thanking the relatives for being so patient and kind to us, and the doctors, nurses, physios and other staff for making us feel so welcome and part of the team - and for saving lives."

The medical students worked alongside five nurses - Carolyn, Tiina, Jo, Steph and Alice. 

From the first day they were on hand to offer advice and support, sharing important details about nursing procedures that the students needed to explain to families.

They were always available, from the handover in the morning to the debrief after a tough day, as well as taking calls, helping to look after patients' property, or just being there for family members at the most difficult of times.

Professor Meghana Pandit, OUH Chief Medical Officer, says:

"It has been incredibly important during this COVID-19 pandemic to keep families informed about their loved-ones' care, especially when they have not been able to be present at the bedside.

"The professionalism and positive attitude of our Relatives Liaison Team has been a beacon of light to us all - we cannot praise our medical students and their nursing colleagues enough, and I would like to express my sincere thanks to them all."

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