A HELENSBURGH woman has spoken of the "amazing and inspiring" commitment of her NHS workmates as she and her colleagues battle to keep the country fit and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Maeve Colman only started working at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank nine months ago as an orthopaedic secretary.

But when the pandemic took hold of the health service and wider British life in March, she was moved to a new role providing administrative support in the Clydebank hospital's 'mobilisation hub', set up specifically to focus on managing services to keep the Golden Jubilee operating as close to 'business as usual' as possible.

"My job has changed completely," she said.

"I have moved office to a new team, which had never worked together and didn't know each other before.

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"There’s been lots of changes. Some have been easier than others to implement, but there's also been a personal impact, in that if we are not careful it can be a little too distancing and maybe a little isolating, so we've all made an extra effort to work as a team and chat and support each other."

The Golden Jubilee's patients don't include anyone who is suspected or confirmed as having Covid-19 – but that doesn't mean the pressure Maeve and her colleagues experience every day is any less.

One of the hospital's main functions is to take in some urgent or emergency patients who would normally go to other NHS board areas, freeing up resources for those other hospitals to tackle Covid-19.

"A lot of attention has gone to Covid-19 patients, understandably," Maeve continued, "but we can't forget about the other patients who are very ill and might need procedures or surgery to help improve their quality of life.

"That's one of the things the Golden Jubilee was able to focus on over the last few months. It takes a lot of planning and organising to do this because there are medical, nursing and management staff from both boards involved and they need to meet to ensure everything goes smoothly.

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"I helped to set up these meetings by video conference, between us and other board staff. I had never arranged video conference meetings before, I didn't know anyone in the other boards and, in fact, sometimes I didn't know where some of the other boards were because I don't know Scotland very well yet, but I got stuck in and did everything I had to do to make sure the meetings went ahead as quickly as possible.

"It was really satisfying when I heard that some of these patients had come to the Golden Jubilee for their treatment and had gone home well.

"I know I'm a very small cog in a very big wheel, but a big wheel can't move without cogs!"

The British public's high regard for the NHS was underlined by the weekly Clap for Carers – which started as a one-off but ended up running for 10 weeks.

Asked whether the experience of the Covid-19 crisis had changed her view of the NHS and her own work, and the public's view of the NHS, Maeve said: "Yes, yes and yes! The commitment and effort I have seen by colleagues has been amazing, and inspiring.

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"Everyone now knows the extraordinary sacrifice NHS staff are prepared to make to do their job which, put simply, is to care for people.

"I honestly don’t think a nation often sees this level of commitment and bravery, apart from maybe during wartime, and the extraordinary response of the weekly Clap for the Carers and rainbow art displays demonstrates how much the public really values the NHS and frontline services like never before.

"I can't imagine what it would have been like not working for my local NHS during this pandemic - not only to be able to help, but also to feel a part of a big, strong, caring community.

" I was delighted to be able to get a chance to volunteer and help out my newly adopted 'Scottish’ family and I'm proud to be part of the Golden Jubilee team."

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