NHS Birthday July 2020

Ards and North Down Borough Council is backing a national day of celebration on 5 July 2020 to mark the birthday of the NHS.

It’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate the achievements of one of the nation’s most loved institutions, to appreciate the vital role the service plays in our lives, and to recognise and thank the extraordinary NHS staff – the everyday heroes – who are there to guide, support and care for us, day in, day out.

In 2020, we've clapped for carers, looked out for the rainbows and stayed at home to help protect our local Health and Social Care staff and services from being overwhelmed during the COVID19 pandemic. To mark the NHS Birthday, we have worked with the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust to highlight the crucial work being done by their staff at a local level during a global health crisis.

Make yourself a cup of tea and read what some of our Health and Social Care workers have to say, in their own words.

We also invite all our residents to join the nation for a special one-off #ClapForCarers – the biggest yet, at 5pm on Sunday 5 July 2020 to mark the 72nd birthday of the NHS.


Health and Social Care Staff - In Their Own Words

Jenny Foreman, Clinical Research Nurse

Jenny Foreman is a Clinical Research Nurse within Cancer Services in the Ulster Hospital. She has worked for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust for 17 years. She has nursed critically ill patients through the pandemic as part of her work on the RECOVERY COVID-19 clinical trial. 

 She has worked with a team of clinicians, nurses and members of the research team to deliver this trial.

Jenny says:

“It has been a national effort where patients have given their time at their sickest, whenever they’ve been in hospital with COVID-19 to participate in research.  

 Without the research we’re unable to answer the question whether treatments are effective, and we always say today’s research is tomorrow’s standard of care” 
Jenny is proud to work for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, providing excellent care, compassion and commitment to her patients and providing opportunities for her patients to take part in research and clinical trials.  

Stephen Rowan, Respiratory Consultant

Stephen Rowan is a Respiratory Consultant at the Ulster Hospital. He works with a range of patients with lung and respiratory conditions, and is the Clinical Lead for Lung Cancer in the South Eastern Trust.

He has worked closely with his colleagues in the Respiratory department in leading the effort of dealing with the pandemic. The respiratory team have pulled together with a range of other specialties including specialist nurses, the intensive care unit, the emergency department and the wider medical field to adapt and change services to cope with patients affected by COVID-19.

Stephen says:

“I am delighted to work in the South Eastern Trust. I have been overwhelmed by the support of all our colleagues throughout the trust and the wider community during these difficult times. We would like to thank all those who have worked so hard, putting themselves on the frontline to care for those who suffered during the pandemic.

We would also like to thank all our patients and those in the community for the wonderful support we received through messages of support, kind gifts, and the clapping and cheers each week.” 

Liz McCormick, District Nurse

Liz McCormick is a District Nurse team lead living in Newtownards and working in the North Down locality.

Liz says:

"I have been a nurse for over 40 years and working through this period has presented a challenge but also a unique opportunity like never before. 

Throughout this pandemic much has changed and yet much remains the same. District Nurses have continued to deliver care to people in their own homes. This pandemic did not diminish the number of patients requiring an input from the District Nursing service.

For many patients their care needs remained the same, such as those with palliative and end of life care needs, those needing wound care provision or the management of long term conditions. 

At the height of this pandemic the District Nursing Service worked in partnership with our colleagues in the private nursing home sector to provide nursing care for residents with Covid-19, this conveys the commitment of service to provide care for the most vulnerable in our society. 

I am proud to be a member of a team where when it was necessary the staff put their own fears aside to provide care and I can say with confidence that District Nurses have delivered their very best through this challenging period."

Jennifer Higham, Occupational Therapist

Jennifer Higham is an Occupational Therapist Specialising in Stroke Care in the Ulster Hospital.  Jennifer has maintained the Acute Stroke Occupational Therapy Team assessment and treatment of patient’s during this time of pandemic. 

Jennifer is proud to work for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust providing excellent care, compassion and commitment to her patients. 

Jennifer and her team were recently awarded Power NI’s Brighter Communities Grant for the Upper Limb Rehabilitation project, which will provide a valuable resource to expand the service within the constraints of the current pandemic. 

Donna McCabrey, Senior Communications Officer

Donna McCabrey has worked in the Trust since 1988.  As Senior Communications Officer she has played a vital role in the response to COVID-19.   

Donna says:

"The Covid-19 pandemic has been an enormous challenge for communications. Advice changes every day and the main challenge is making complex, scientific and new information easy to understand and follow for both staff and the general public." 

When the pandemic hit, Donna was part of the team which helped change the narrative over a single weekend with doctors going on social media to tell the public the importance of staying at home. A range of videos was produced, keeping the public informed of service changes. 

Donna works closely with the media, ensuring they are provided with the most up to date and accurate information, giving the public an insight into the Trusts response to COVID-19. 

Good communication is more important now than ever before.   

Hamish Gibson, Social Worker

Hamish Gibson is a newly qualified Social Worker supporting children and families in the South Eastern Trust.  He graduated early from his social work degree to support teams during COVID-19. Hamish is committed to ensuring that young people are supported within the community and has been overwhelmed by the emotional strength of young people and the support of the community.

Hamish has sent art packs to children and used them during zoom sessions to help children to connect to their feelings and emotions. Hamish is committed to supporting parents to provide a safe and loving home for their children.

Elinor Welch, Nurse

Elinor Welch from Newtownards has been a nurse for 32 years, the last 16 years working in the South Eastern Trust. Like many staff, Elinor was redeployed from her usual post in nursing workforce and education during the COVID pandemic.

She was involved with pharmacy in setting up an innovative intravenous drug preparation service to support ward staff. In order to maximise the time nurses had to care for their patients, the small team took over the task of preparing all intravenous drug doses for patients in both COVID and non-COVID wards.

Elinor says:

"Between 8th April and 28th June more than 8, 000 individual doses of drugs were prepared and delivered, minimising drug wastage and freeing up ward nursing staff to carry out essential nursing duties."

Sonya Duffy, Volunteer Services Manager

Sonya Duffy has worked within the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust for 27 years; 19 years as a Volunteer Services Manager, developing programmes and roles for volunteer involvement to improve services for patients and clients. 

Sonya says

"When we were hit with COVID-19, volunteering as we knew it had to change to reduce the spread of infection and keep everyone safe.  All volunteering was temporarily suspended.  This left a huge gap in our services, especially for patients in hospital who could not see their friends and family and those living alone in their own homes who were now socially isolated. Lockdown was having a detrimental effect on their mental health and wellbeing."

Sonya engaged with key staff and initiated new volunteer roles to support patients and clients during lockdown, for example virtual/telephone befriending using technology to allow patients in hospital and those isolated in their own homes to receive a virtual call or telephone call from a volunteer befriender; pharmacy delivery service, collecting prescription for patients who are shielding and can’t get their medication; and enabling patients to get essential cardiac investigations by delivering monitoring equipment out to patients homes. 

Patients have really appreciated the support from volunteers. 

“I really enjoy what I do.  I love working with staff at all levels of the organisation and I love that the role allows me to creative and innovative.  I am passionate about volunteering.  I see how beneficial volunteers are to helping improve services and make a positive difference in people’s lives and I am proud to be a part of that.

It is humbling to work with volunteers who are so willing to step up to help others, especially during the pandemic when volunteers were very much focused on how they could help patients & clients through this difficult time.” 

Eve Kelly, Staff Nurse

Eve Kelly has been a staff nurse since October 2018.  Her current job is within Enhanced Care and Home (ECAH) based within the Ards and North Down council area. 

Eve says:

"During the Covid-19 pandemic, with the ECAH Team, I have worked to help facilitate discharge from hospital for patients by going into their own homes and supporting them during their recovery process.  We have done this in the community setting, by completing daily clinical observations, obtaining bloods, organising additional social care, when necessary.  We reassure by listening to any worries and concerns they may have after contracting Covid-19.  

The ECAH Team has been involved in working alongside Trust and private sector nursing/residential homes.  We provide support to staff with infection control processes, identifying deteriorating patients and escalation to hospital.  As well as still caring for ECAH’s long term blood transfusion, venesection and IGG patients.  The ECAH team and staff from the nursing and residential homes worked exceptionally hard and came together to work as one team to ensure all patients received the safe and effective care they deserved.   

Working in this pandemic has been an emotional and physical challenge for me, the ECAH Team and all staff across the SET.  

ECAH is overwhelmed by the efforts from everyone within the local community area and for all the support they have shown during these unprecedented times. 

I am proud to be part of a team who has shown nothing but care, compassion and commitment to patients, families and colleagues during such challenging times."