University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) has scooped the prestigious Midlands Region Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care Parliamentary Award. The Emergency Department Medical Assistant team have been named as Regional Champions for their contribution during the Covid-19 pandemic and will now be entered into the final round of the Parliamentary Awards.
The coronavirus pandemic is the greatest public health challenge in NHS history and has prompted a record number of nominations from MPs across the country who have sought to shine a light on the dedication of health and care staff and volunteers who have contributed to the unprecedented response. The judges, drawn from across the NHS, have now selected the 10 regional winners who have been selected from over 147 nominations, one in each of the 10 categories.
The medical assistants are a team of students from Keele University who work alongside senior medics at UHNM to provide support to patients and staff. During the pandemic, 22 additional medical assistants were recruited and the service was expanded to involve other community-facing medical portals.
The addition to urgent care has significantly benefitted patients and clinicians, with initial data showing the medical assistants team have helped to improve clinical decision-making time in the Emergency Department by 29 minutes.
The team was set up by Dr Andrew Davy, GP lead for Research and Development in Accident and Emergency at UHNM and Dr Ruth Kinston, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Final Year Co-Lead at Keele University. Today Dr Davy said: “The medical assistant team at UHNM the first in the country of its kind. It was established in response to a need for quicker assessment and decision making in one of busiest areas of our emergency department: ambulance triage. Senior doctors were taking their own blood tests and testing urine samples and although admirable in terms of team building, we felt that it wasn’t a good use of their time and in particular their unique skills as decision makers.
“The medical assistants have become a real asset to consultants and the nursing team, helping to reduce the workload and enhancing the patient journey. Whilst doing this they are able to gain essential skills and knowledge required for the future and so this experience is providing valuable insight into medical practice for them.
“The students have been trained by our superb nurses who often go the extra mile by training them in their own time because they feel they are worth investing in. And this investment is helping the wider NHS too. From the outset, we have had a very open policy of sharing all contracts, skills log books, assessment processes and a toolkit to set up a medical assistant team with other trusts, which has led them being started at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust and Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.
“This is a win for the students themselves because they are having the opportunity to improve their clinical skills and team working skills. And it’s a win for the department in terms of having highly skilled extra pairs of hands. But most importantly, it’s a win for the patients we are all trying to serve.
“Many of the medical assistants now want to start their F1 careers in A&E and in our emergency department at Royal Stoke University Hospital we have already welcomed three of the year five medical students as F1 doctors.”
Caroline Millett-Spicer, a former teacher, has been working in the A&E department at Royal Stoke since the beginning of the pandemic. She is in her fifth year as a medical student and has experience working as a healthcare assistant in a busy emergency department in the south of the country.
Caroline, 30, is now working in the ambulance triage area of Royal Stoke’s emergency department and across Covid and non-Covid areas.
Caroline said: “This is a great role and has provided a fantastic opportunity for me to develop my clinical skills. I feel really welcome and that I’m a proper, useful part of the team. To have a role where I can build up my knowledge and experience in challenging situations makes such a difference to my studies and it’s good to know that I’m making a significant contribution in the smooth working of the department. My role involves spending time with patients performing ECGs, canulation procedures, taking bloods and providing personal care.
“Because the role is paid it takes the pressure off for people like myself who are not funded for their studies and I am able to put more money towards achieving my degree, which is really reassuring and encourages me to keep going.
“I wasn’t worried about working in Covid areas, I felt that I was really well prepared. I had mask fittings from the outset and communication was really good across the department, we were always kept updated about things.”
Caroline decided on her career change at the age of 26 and began to pursue a career in medicine. She is now considering progression to a general practice role with a special interest in emergency medicine.
Dr Nigel Sturrock, Regional Medical Director at NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands, said: “I was impressed by the high standard of all entries from the Midlands this year and choosing between the dozens of teams and individuals who all go above and beyond, to go forward and represent our region, has been incredibly difficult. I wish our champions the best of luck in the national heats and will be rooting for them on the day.”
England’s Chief Midwife and chair of the national judging panel this year, Professor Jaqueline Dunkley Bent, said: “A huge congratulations to all those who have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to the NHS as well as making a genuine difference to the patients they care for. NHS staff and volunteers make the health service what it is today – the largest and greatest care team in the world.
“This year more than ever, the nation owes a debt of gratitude to the 1.3 million-strong army of nurses, midwives, doctors, physios, pharmacists, healthcare and maternity care assistants porters, cleaners, and countless other staff who ensured no patient who could benefit from NHS care was unable to receive it. It will be a tough task selecting our overall winners – I look forward to hearing more about their fantastic achievements and celebrating with them all at the national award ceremony.”
The UHNM medical assistants team will now go head to head with other winners from across the country to be judged by a national panel made up of senior leaders representing staff and patients, for the chance to win the prestigious national award, which will be presented at a special ceremony in the House of Commons on the 7 July 2021.
The full list of regional winners can be found here: https://www.nhsparliamentaryawards.co.uk/shortlist