Training at the Nightingale – a pharmacist’s view

Yinka Kuye is a healthcare development manager for McKesson UK, providing pharmacy solutions for secondary care across the south of England including outpatient dispensing, prisons, mental health Trusts and private hospitals. She also works as a regional tutor for the Centre of Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) and it was this work that led to her becoming involved with the Nightingale Hospital in London.

Yinka says: “My boss at CPPE approached me and asked if I could support the delivery of the pharmacy education at the Nightingale, as there was no pharmacy representation in the faculty.

“There were a few considerations, I had to recognise the health risks of working in close proximity to other people in an environment where COVID was present, but as a clinician I just always wanted to help. It’s also true to say that I was a bit excited by the opportunity of helping directly in the pandemic and my risk was far less than people working directly with patients.  I talked it through with family and decided that I definitely wanted to do it.”

Initially, Yinka undertook her role in her own time at the weekends, but when McKesson asked all pharmacists in field roles to return to help in LloydsPharmacy stores, she asked if she could be released to work at the Nightingale and is now there full time.

Yinka continues: “There is a strong pharmacy team doing an amazing job on the ‘shop floor’. My role as pharmacy education liaison lead is to ensure that there isn’t a gap between induction training and the clinical model. In other words, ensuring pharmacy professionals will receive the training and development needed to give them the confidence and competence to perform their role safely at the Nightingale.

“I had to learn so many new things – and so quickly! Everything is new, the teams, the environment, much of the equipment and resources.  I have found myself writing some pharmacy training material on the Friday to deliver to non-pharmacy clinicians on the Monday. Everything here moves at such pace!

“I teach the pharmacy teams how to don and doff PPE and, perhaps more importantly, how to prepare their psychological PPE- how to protect their mental as well as physical wellbeing. There is  a higher death rate in intensive care units which people need to be prepared for. We talk about how to prevent PTSD in the immediate aftermath of their shift but also longer term, post-pandemic.  It’s a session that usually has the biggest impact at induction and people are visibly impacted by it.

“Communicating whilst wearing PPE is challenging, so training for this is important as discussions between the multidisciplinary team members about medication is critical.  We work with some very basic sign language that everyone recognises – the sort of thing you would use when scuba diving so the international sign for OK, for instance.

“What’s been different about this role (and sometimes challenging) is training as a multidisciplinary team _ nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, scientists, theatre operators, St John’s Ambulance– it’s such a varied population that have been brought together to learn together. There’s no time to try things out or get used to ways of working, we have had to learn to work at pace and if things aren’t working we change them.

“I take every opportunity to network – I have connected one of the clinical governance and policies leads at the Trust who is in charge of step-down and discharge with our healthcare operations manager to secure self-discharge prescriptions are dispensed from our local LloydsPharmacy outpatient dispensary.

“As the education liaison team we now sit at the heart of the operations of NHS Nightingale (I call it the command room as that’s what it feels like- a military operation and the fact that the military are in this room adds to the perception). We are now invited to attend the 4pm daily clinical forum where the senior leaders running the Trust discuss strategy and change. All the different departments share what they have learnt that day that requires change for tomorrow.

Things are fast-paced and very fluid. Changes to protocols happen within days – always striving for optimum patient care quickly, therefore learning quickly and changing only what’s needs changing to improve patient care. The achievements have been pretty impressive — we have some of the top leaders from across the NHS coming together to run the Nightingale.

“We’ve created so many great systems and processes that can be passed on to other Nightingale hospitals. We’ve developed The Nightingale ICU Quick Reference Guide from scratch.

“I just can’t believe what we’ve achieved in such a short space of time and I am amazed to be playing my part in something so innovative and at the very heart of the pandemic response.”