Since March this year we've all seen and felt the changes this global pandemic has brought to Scottish society. We now have to wear face coverings whenever we go shopping and we're only able to see certain numbers of people at the one time, but even then it's advised to see them outside as much as possible.
Since the start of the pandemic, more and more of us, including me, have been getting used to working and socialising from home. From Zooming with family and friends to creating neighbourhood WhatsApp groups, digital platforms have become the only way many of us are able to work, socialise and take part in ongoing professional development and education.
As Chair of the Board I have really missed not being able to attend meetings in person but, like everyone else, I’ve had to embrace change and continue to do things in a digital way.
Like me, many of us have created a home working space, turning a part of a bedroom or living room in to an office. I hear some innovative people are use an ironing board as a makeshift stand-up desk.
As a disabled person, I can now officially work with my feet up which is a bonus on the days I’m struggling.
For clinical staff it’s more ‘business as usual’ but also working in a different way. The pandemic has forced changes to working patterns suddenly and in a very short period of time.
This wasn’t easy and as an Allied Health Professional I am proud of the response and the wonderful examples of teamwork, innovation and leadership I saw and continue to see.
With the restrictions put in place to keep everyone safe, there has been a ground swell of change in the NHS. These changes are mostly in the way the NHS is harnessing technology.
Within weeks of the pandemic taking hold, GP appointments and hospital outpatient appointments were converted to telephone or video consultations.
At NHS Golden Jubilee, our clinical teams introduced new ways to make meeting with patients safer by using digital technology such as NHS Near Me to carry out virtual clinics and health assessments from the patient’s own home.
Our Board too have moved from regularly meeting in person to meeting remotely via Microsoft Teams. This represents a whole new way of thinking and can take time to adjust. Instead of being able to walk round and meet different staff within the departments, we have now put in place virtual walk rounds of areas through film and online discussion.
Our volunteers have had to change to using digital ways of connecting rather than spending time in our wards visiting patients and talking with staff. They are now using video and telephone calls to maintain contact with their healthcare colleagues and patients in hospital and even talking to people in their homes once they're discharged.
The advantage for patients of all this amazing technology is that they now don't have to travel for appointments, allowing other family members to join the consultation too and ask questions on their behalf. It helps us all feel connected during these uncertain times.
COVID-19 may permanently change the way many of us work. At present, allowing as many people as possible to work remotely is necessary. This has allowed us to continue to serve and offer the very best of services to the people of Scotland.
Now we are starting to look to the future, to recovery and many of us in the NHS see that many of the new ways of working will stand the test of time.
This means there are many service improvements we will maintain because one thing that has not changed is NHS Golden Jubilee’s commitment to continuous improvement.
This pandemic has probably changed us all but it’s also pushed us to innovate and improve what we offer and helped us to see there are new ways to do the same things differently.
Until next time, stay well, stay safe to protect others and I hope that together we will continue to move towards a time when we are able to look back at this time as history.
With warmest wishes