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King's supports NHS pandemic response

The UK’s National Health Service is facing the unprecedented pressures of the COVID pandemic, and King's staff and students are helping to support this vital service.

Volunteers

Staff and students from King’s health faculties have been supporting the NHS' clinical response to the pandemic at its most critical time. 

King's Medics

Medical students from King’s have been graduated early, enabling many to volunteer to help their colleagues in the NHS. The King’s community celebrated their achievements during their studies, and as they begin their professional careers.

Professor Sir Robert Lechler, Senior Vice President/Provost (Health), recorded a speech for the ceremony. He said: 'Moments of crisis must be seen as moments of real opportunity to make a critical difference.'

As you play your part in the coming year you will have contributed so much to so many, and it will accelerate your growth into becoming skilled doctors for the future. I wish you every success both now and for your future careers.– Professor Sir Robert Lechler, Senior Vice President/Provost (Health)
Zoom call with Tim Lancaster

Dean of Medical Education Tim Lancaster joined the virtual celebration, congratulating students on their achievements.

King's Nurses and Midwives

Many King's nursing and midwifery students are also joining the response as students on extended placements as NHS employees.

Staff from the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care have also volunteered with the NHS. Carolyne Stewart, a teaching fellow at King’s, has joined the intensive and high dependency care critical care training team, based at London’s Nightingale Hospital in the ExCel Centre. 

Life Lines

Joel Meyer and Louise Rose holding tablet devices outside St Thomas' Hospital in London.

From left: Dr Joel Meyer and Professor Louise Rose holding Life Lines tablets at St Thomas' Hospital in London.

Families whose loved ones are being treated for coronavirus in intensive care units can now be present virtually at their bedside. The Life Lines project allows relatives to see and speak to their loved ones via a tablet using the secure online platform, aTouchAway, also meeting the clinical team providing care. 

The project aims to provide two tablets to every intensive care unit across the UK, supported by a variety of partners.

Together, we’re able to help keep families connected when they cannot be near, which may help to dramatically reduce family and patient distress and could revolutionise the way we communicate with families in the future. Life Lines can also help to alleviate stress for the intensive care nurses who play a huge role in communicating with families, and who are doing everything they can to make sure no one feels alone.– Professor Louise Rose, Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care

The project is led by Louise Rose, Professor of Critical Care Nursing at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care, and Dr Joel Meyer, a critical care consultant at Guy’s alongside Michael Paquet, CEO of Aetonix who created aTouchAway. You can find out more details about the project and partners here.

Supporting NHS workforce training 

The Chantler Simulation & Interactive Learning Centre on Guy’s campus is supporting workforce training for the Guy’s and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, enabling staff to gain new clinical skills through simulation-based learning.

The team have created training videos to teach staff how to respond to common scenarios that they might encounter and how to adapt their knowledge and skills to work with COVID-19 patients.

Most recently, the Centre has hosted critical care training for registered nurses, supporting the clinical response to the pandemic. The teaching is available for up to 140 NHS staff a day, taught by teaching faculties from the hospitals and supported by five volunteer technicians from the Chantler SaIL Centre and the NHS Foundation Trust.

Lessons from the Ebola epidemic

During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, volunteer health workers from King’s Global Health Partnerships contributed to the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership, treating more than 10% of all Ebola patients. Two volunteers, mental health nurse Katy Lowe and infection prevention nurse Natalie Mounter, discussed the lessons they gained from their King’s experiences on the Telegraph's 'Mad World' podcast, from the importance of team support to avoiding burnout, and coming to terms with the difficult decisions they faced.

Natalie also shared her experiences with Channel 4, exploring the broader lessons of the Ebola outbreak for pandemic response.

The King’s Together fund

Rapid diagnostic testing 

With media scrutiny over the availability of COVID diagnostic tests, particularly for NHS workers, hospitals are facing pressure to deliver more test results faster, including those in King's Health Partners.  

A new research project, exploring rapid diagnostic testing, will utilise resources from the School of Immunology and Microbial Sciences, providing key support to the bottlenecks of testing - sample preparation time, staff requirements and testing reagent supplies. By utilising the School's resources, the researchers aim to create reserve contingency diagnostics, enabling rapid COVID-19 testing of NHS samples at Guy's Hospital. 

Guy's Hospital

Supporting NHS staff mental health 

Reflecting the difficult choices and environments NHS staff will experience during the pandemic, King's researchers are exploring the moral injury that may occur from the new scale and nature of ethical dilemmas staff face. The project aims to identify the best ways of supporting acute hospital staff during pandemics, and how to mitigate the negative moral impacts of that work. 

The King's Together fund is supporting 30 new COVID research projects, adding to knowledge about the COVID pandemic and it's impacts. Find out more here.

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