“If we can pull together, I believe we can come through this troubled time”

Jenny Ford, Branch Secretary at Portsmouth Health, has seen rapid changes in the hospitals in Solent NHS Trust. As Facilities manager for St James’ Hospital (a mental health hospital) and St Mary’s (a community hospital), Jenny divides her time between the two sites.

Jenny spoke to us about the challenges her team have faced responding to Covid-19:

“We’ve just reopened 2 disused wards on the St James’ site to prepare wards for Covid-19 patients. Some of these wards are derelict buildings and we had to get them clinical-ready within a short timescale. We also had to get them stocked with laundry and chemical equipment, all of which is in short supply throughout the country.

“The shortages mean we are having to adjust to using and sourcing new chemicals, ensuring we have the safety data sheets, liaising all the time with infection control and H&S advisor to ensure that it’s safe for staff usage, and training staff to ensure the correct procedures for COVID patients. It’s all new to everyone.

“We had to staff these areas from agencies. So we have had to interview and train staff to cover normal areas and ask our permanent trained staff to cover the COVID wards.

It’s clear that this work has taken it’s toll, but has also brought people together in new ways:

“My team and I have worked really long hours over a period of days to get the wards ready, but it felt like the ‘old NHS community’ coming together again. Everyone is really tired but happy to come together to complete this. It highlights what camaraderie is all about in UNISON and the NHS – working together for the sake of patients”

And Jenny has this message for UNISON members across the region.

“If we can pull together as my team has, I believe we can come through this troubled time and show how important our NHS is to the nation and how the community spirit always shines through.

“Well done to all Our Heroes!”

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