‘We couldn’t do it without them’ - Praise for volunteers supporting Addenbrooke’s staff during the pandemic

PUBLISHED: 06:00 05 August 2020 | UPDATED: 19:23 06 August 2020

A Covid-19 clinician at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge has praised St John Ambulance volunteers who have been helping throughout the pandemic. Pictures: Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

A Covid-19 clinician at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge has praised St John Ambulance volunteers who have been helping throughout the pandemic. Pictures: Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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A clinician who is helping to lead the battle against Covid-19 at Addenbrooke’s Hospital has praised the St John Ambulance volunteers.

David Monk, Urgent care programme lead at Addenbrooke's hospital has praised the loyal team of St John's Ambulance volunteers who offered their support throughout the pandemic. Pictures: Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustDavid Monk, Urgent care programme lead at Addenbrooke's hospital has praised the loyal team of St John's Ambulance volunteers who offered their support throughout the pandemic. Pictures: Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

David Monk, the Cambridge hospital’s urgent care programme lead went as far as saying: “We couldn’t do it without them.”

St John Ambulance volunteers have clocked up 4,000 hours between them since March, and played a vital role in the emergency department and the urgent treatment centre.

Now it has been formally agreed this support will continue until April next year, which will add another important layer of extra resilience during the pandemic and through the flu season.

David, who was emergency department manager before moving into his current Covid-related role, said: “Everyone is agreed we couldn’t have got through the last few months without the volunteers.

Dita Lee, an advanced first aider from Cromer, is one of many St John's Ambulance volunteers supporting hospital staff throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Pictures: Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustDita Lee, an advanced first aider from Cromer, is one of many St John's Ambulance volunteers supporting hospital staff throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Pictures: Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

“They have a can-do attitude and quickly became part of the team.

“To volunteer 4,000 hours since March is just incredible and some have found it so rewarding they have gone on to apply for hospital-related positions such as health care assistants.”

The team of around 25 volunteers, aged 18 up, are all trained in first aid but undergo a dedicated two-day Covid course with St John before joining the hospital where they receive an induction covering aspects including infection control.

They work on a rota basis covering five shifts per 24 hour period, often doing stints of eight to ten hours.

There is no clinical responsibility for patients, but they undertake a range of other essential tasks that would otherwise be done by busy staff.

This includes taking responsibility for PPE stock and ensuring the right equipment is in the right place at the right time.

The volunteers, who regularly take 16,000-20,000 steps per shift, also help with the feeding of patients, distributing drinks, collecting items for patients, and keeping them company when they may feel scared or lonely because of visiting restrictions.

Adam Williams, St John Ambulance national head of community response, said: “I am incredibly proud of our people and the contribution we have made to fight against this pandemic.

“I am pleased we have been able to extend the partnership to a time when there will hopefully be less pressure on everyone.”

Dita Lee, is an advanced first aider who travels from Cromer to volunteer at Addenbrooke’s.

She said: “I put my name forward as the country’s fight against the pandemic was unfolding.

“It was one of the best decisions I have made and whatever happens in the future, I will always look back at 2020 as an incredible and transformational year.

“There is nothing more rewarding than creating a rapport with a patient and just being there for them, making them smile a little, helping them pass the time.”

• Anyone interested in joining St John Ambulance can find more details on the St John Ambulance website.


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