On Wednesday, The Countess of Wessex took the time to speak to frontline healthcare workers from Somerset NHS Foundation Trust via video call, to hear about their personal experiences working through the Coronavirus pandemic.
Sophie met Somerset NHS Foundation Trust Chief Operating Officer for Hospital Services, Matthew Bryant; Colin Drummond, Chairman of Somerset NHS Foundation Trust; and Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, Anne Maw, along with representatives from different teams and services across the NHS trust.
The Countess, who has recently become a volunteer for St John’s ambulance to help with the vaccination programme, heard from colleagues in frontline nursing, mental health, emergency and intensive care roles, as well as junior doctors and the joint chair of the trust’s multicultural colleague network.
Staff spoke of their experiences in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and how this had affected them and their roles.
Also joining the call with the Royal included those in cleaning and facilities roles, and community district nursing, and administrative support roles from across the county, including from community hospitals in Crewkerne and Bridgwater, and from the Somerset COVID-19 vaccination programme.
The Countess recently expressed her gratitude to those working on the vaccination programme, after her father received his vaccine.
The mother-of-two heard how Somerset healthcare had to respond quickly and adapt services in order to care for large numbers of patients with who came down with coronavirus, including those who needed help with their breathing. Another challenge was to provide services for patients who did not have COVID-19 but needed treatment, and to ensure all patients had appropriate support following discharge from hospital.
During the visit, Sophie paid tribute to all colleagues working at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and thanked them all for their contributions sacrifices and hard work, whilst highlighting how challenging the last year will also have been on a personal and emotional level for everyone, in addition to working for the NHS.
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Speaking about the virtual visit from the Countess, Mr Bryant, said: “We were honoured to host a visit from Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex today and share some of our recent experiences from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Somerset. We’re immensely proud of all of our dedicated and hardworking colleagues, who have worked through the most difficult and challenging year we have experienced.
“They have continued to provide excellent services, making the right decisions for patients and supporting each other, despite working longer hours, often in new environments and under difficult circumstances.
“At the same time, we see how the pandemic has brought much disruption and heartbreak to the families and loved ones of our patients, and our colleagues have found new and innovative ways of supporting families, and helping them to stay in touch with their loved ones.”