Barking, Havering and Redbridge hospital theatre staff move to front line in war against coronavirus

Appropriately socially-distanced operating department orderly, Lawrie Turner and operating departmen

Appropriately socially-distanced operating department orderly, Lawrie Turner and operating department practitioners Simon Peck and John Leaver. Picture: BHRUT - Credit: BHRUT

As surgeries are postponed, operating theatre practitioners are adapting to support ICU frontliners wherever they can.

Three colleagues in theatres at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust are helping colleagues in intensive care with “proning” Covid-19 patients, which means turning them onto their front to assist their breathing.

Operating department practitioners (ODPs) Simon Peck and John Leaver, and operating department orderly Lawrie Turner have been even been called upon to help train colleagues in the procedure.

Simon, also a practice education facilitator, said: “We’re proning patients daily in theatres, for things such as spinal surgeries, so we’re well-versed in it and it seemed natural for us to do it.

“We’re used to doing different stuff as our jobs can change on a daily basis and we need to be adaptable. While we couldn’t have predicted this, it’s just another thing for us to do.”

It’s also given Simon, Lawrie and John, who have worked together for almost a decade, a renewed sense of purpose at a challenging time.

John, who’s worked at the trust since 1989, added: “As routine surgeries have been postponed while we deal with this, it meant we weren’t as busy as we usually would be. So it feels better to be able to go and do this. We’re doing what we normally do, but a little bit differently.

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“It’s really nice to be able to work with other teams. We’re working in ITU daily and it’s remarkably calm with everyone working together. We get to see the strengths of other colleagues too, like how much our physios are doing for our patients.”

Their usual roles see them supporting colleagues in theatres, ensuring equipment is ready, machines are tested and everything is safe for patients ahead of their operations.

Lawrie said: “Our work can be physically and mentally challenging, especially now. So it’s great that we have a good social side in our team. We sit and eat lunch together and take time to talk to one another. Of course there are times it can be stressful at the moment so we’re really supporting each other.”