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Date: 17 January 2021

Time: 03:40

Image: UHB staff at work in the phlebotomy clinic at Birmingham Dental Hospital

Successful partnership working during COVID-19

Story posted/last updated: 31 July 2020

Phlebotomy service set up at Birmingham Dental Hospital

In April 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, a brand new service began at Birmingham Dental Hospital run by nursing staff from Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) and dental nurses from Birmingham Dental Hospital, part of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHC).

The new phlebotomy service was for patients from University Hospital Birmingham’s (UHB) acute hospitals and was an example of true collaboration between two neighbouring NHS trusts.

The idea was to avoid bringing patients who needed blood tests into UHB’s busy hospital sites where there were increased risks of exposure to COVID-19.

Emma Skinner, Outpatients Senior Sister at QEHB, explains:

“In addition to keeping patients away from of our hospitals, with the help and support of the Dental Hospital staff we were able to bring in shielding patients who had to have bloods taken due to their medical needs.  Staff at the Dental Hospital were extremely willing to help and had put together good processes to ensure the patient flows were efficient and safe.”

The new service began during the first few days of April and continued until 24 July 2020. Running between 08:30 and 16:00 from Monday to Friday, patients were seen in five minute slots in an area usually used for dental procedures and student training. The service was set up within a matter of weeks and its success was due to the partnership working between staff at UHB and BCHC. 

Emma adds: “The Dental Hospital staff were really welcoming and flexible with the setting up and ensuring that the service ran well.  We really appreciated their help and experience, particularly Sam Turley, Dental Nurse Manager, who has supported the QEHB staff on daily basis and made them feel welcome and part of the team.”

Whilst the service could only deal with routine blood tests, this was vital in ensuring patients who needed regular testing continued with their treatment and reviews during the pandemic. Patients with long-term conditions had confidence that their care was not being affected by the difficult circumstances and were reassured that staff were thinking of new and creative ways to solve problems resulting from the COVID-19 situation.

Emma continues: “The processes set up for shielding patients minimised the risks to patients and staff and ensured that patients moved through the pathway as quickly as possible. 

“Because we were able to use multiple dental pods, this ensured that social distancing and contact risks were also managed safely.”

Image: the team at the phlebotomy clinic at Birmingham Dental Hospital

The service is just one example of how UHB has transformed the way patient care is delivered in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. As well as telephone and video consultations, the Trust has set up other off-site clinics such as at New Street Station, the BMI Edgbaston and Resorts World Arena at the NEC, in collaboration with Birmingham and Solihull CCG.

Although the phlebotomy service at the Dental Hospital has now come to an end, it is hoped that the collaboration between the two teams will continue. Plans are in place for the QEHB and Dental Hospital staff to share practice developments within their respective maxillofacial and dental departments.

Sam Turley, Dental Nurse Manager at BCHC, added:

“It has been a pleasure to work with such a great team at this unprecedented time. The UHB staff that were a part of this collaboration have been a real support to me and the dental nurses. This service has developed the dental nurses’ confidence and knowledge in phlebotomy and the teamwork they have all demonstrated throughout this challenging time is highly commendable.”

Emma summarises:

“I thinking nursing always work collaboratively and nurses are flexible to patient needs, so this helped with the success of the project.  A big thank you needs to go to both the staff at the Dental Hospital, who hopefully gained experience in phlebotomy, and to the QEHB staff for their willingness and professional approach to the challenge.

“Staff on all sides were keen to adapt and work together as a team, they have all, I think, enjoyed the experience and have dealt with the challenges really well. A vital service for our patients has continued during the most difficult of times.”

BCHC staff help support health and wellbeing at UHB

Claire Carberry normally works for BCHC as a Senior Community Forensic within learning disabilities, but was redeployed early on in the response to the health and wellbeing team at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, part of UHB.

Claire worked as a staff supporter, delivering psychological first aid to individuals and teams on the front line. Alongside the wider psychology team, Claire held drop in sessions at the on-site wellbeing hub as well as attending wards/departments as required. The role also involved capturing themes of the types of concerns raised and networking with the appropriate staff from the wider service to ensure that the support provided was accessible, targeted and effective.

Reflecting on her experience, Claire said: “Having the opportunity to work with the clinical health psychologists and wider staff team at QEHB was an absolute privilege. I was instantly made to feel welcome and valued. The team works so very hard and do a truly amazing job. In such difficult times I was nonetheless so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with them.”

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