SPECIAL training developed as a "life saving approach to care" during the pandemic will now be a permanent feature in Glasgow hospitals.

Theatre teams worked to prepare staff being redeployed to critical care during the second wave, having seen how stressful the change could be for those moved suddenly to new roles as the crisis hit.

The training, created by a team of perioperative charge nurses, will now be a permanent feature in NHSGGC pandemic planning.

Alyson Goodwin, Lead Nurse for Adult Theatres at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, who helped set the programme up, said: “The biggest challenge for our department during this pandemic has been supporting our critical care colleagues who have been treating very sick Covid-19 patients.

"As skilled perioperative practitioners, we are specialised in our given field so, while there are transferable skills among our staff, many nurses hadn’t worked on a ward for a long time so moving to a critical care area for them was very stressful."

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The programme helped ensure those redeployed from other services during the second wave received the right support and training to ensure a smooth and rapid transition into critical care, which can pose a number of different technical and mental challenges for staff.

It involved a series of inductions, orientation, shadowing and technical advice on the use of critical care equipment and treatment of patients with Covid-19 within intensive care and high dependency.

Alyson added: “During the first wave we were able to ensure a rotation of senior nurses were always available to support staff being redeployed to critical care – helping provide advice and support.

"However, it was a huge learning curve and we recognised that in the event of a second wave we’d need a more formalised programme to help induct staff to ensure a smooth and rapid transition into critical care shifts meaning our staff could hit the ground running.

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“For the second wave, despite there being far more patients requiring critical care, the hospital had the support staff ready to assist from theatres, and we were able to respond much more effectively.”

Upwards of 55 perioperative staff from QEUH, Gartnavel and New Victoria ACH completed the training before the second wave, meaning that when the wave hit, they could quickly be deployed alongside normal critical care teams at the QEUH.

This meant teams were able to maintain high-quality person-centred care, even while functioning well over normal capacity.

Staff found the training hugely beneficial and following the programme’s positive impact, it has been rolled out across NHSGGC’s south sector to be used in the event of significant future waves of Covid-19 or if there are other requirements to rapidly scale up critical care units.

Frances McLinden, Director for the South Sector at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: "The work of the perioperative team is just one example of the rapid development and implementation of potentially life-saving approaches to care which demonstrates how staff have come together to respond to the pandemic.

"It was recognised that staff going into critical care faced a number of new challenges, coupled with the pressure of the pandemic and the volume of patients.

"The team worked efficiently with critical care educators to assess the problem and devised a training plan which minimised the risks facing staff moving into critical care, helped alleviate staff anxiety and ensured that the support was available for those staff being redeployed.

"As a result we were able to provide timely support to critical care teams during the most testing of times and have created a model which could potentially be applied across any services wherein there may be a requirement to scale up specific service responses."