“The work of the communications team changed overnight. Our day-to-day work managing media, social media, events and staff and public communications immediately switched to support our Trust response to the pandemic. Every member of the team had to quickly adapt to fulfil new requirements, such as attending Hospital Control Team meetings, providing countless updates to the public and local media via our website and social media channels, helping co-ordinate charitable donations and creating a suite of promotional materials to promote social distancing and mask-wearing in our hospitals. We provided seven-day-a-week cover to ensure staff, patients and the public were briefed on key messages every day.
“I think I speak for all the team when I say it was hard to keep up with the pace of change in the first months. We are used to working in a planned way, but that went out of the window as we found ourselves constantly reacting to an ever-changing scenario – particularly in our support of staff as we witnessed the impact of how hard it was to care for patients who were really poorly. It was especially hard to report the first patient deaths and witness how the number grew.
“Many of our communications colleagues from other NHS organisations moved to working at home full time as soon as the pandemic hit. However, the nature of hospital communications roles is such that having some of the team on the hospital site was key to the support we gave. I am proud of the team for the way they overcame some of their initial concerns coming in to work during those early months when so many of their friends and family were at home in lockdown. While we ensured our office was covered each day, we also tried a working from home rota for the first time. We were impressed at how quickly the technical equipment was provided to us to make this happen.
“Witnessing the dedication and determination of our clinical and support services colleagues was truly inspiring. I know the whole comms team feels really proud to have been a part of the Trust’s pandemic response over the past two years. As an organisation, we have achieved so much in the face of some really challenging circumstances and we should take time to reflect and celebrate that.
“It’s a relief that infection rates are falling. As we move into recovery mode there is lots to do to occupy the Communications Team to support all specialties within the organisation. We are already looking forward at the work that lies ahead in 2022-23. It feels a bit overwhelming to think about how long it might take for the NHS as a whole to recover but I feel hopeful that we are heading in the right direction at last – we just don’t know how long the road ahead is!
“I have been hugely impressed with how the whole team has stepped up to cover and help each other during challenging moments over the past two years. Our sense of team spirit is even stronger for the experience although I doubt any of us would want to repeat it!”