Blog: A reflection on our NHS partnership during the COVID-19 pandemic

As we approach the end of 2020, we have taken a moment to reflect on the last 12 months and recognise that despite the incredible challenges we have all faced, our partnership with the NHS has become even stronger and we have been able to deliver fantastic services to patients.

Very early on in the pandemic, InHealth re-orientated our entire organisation to support NHS England in responding to the challenge of COVID-19. As an independent healthcare provider with more than 25 years’ experience of working in partnership with the NHS, delivering services to more than 3 million NHS patients each year across a range of different areas, there was much that we could offer in terms of allocating available resources to fighting the pandemic.

Building on what was already a positive relationship with the NHS and due to InHealth staff and services being located across the country in hospital sites, community settings and through our mobile fleet, we not only repurposed some of our clinical services, but also redeployed staff and made them available to work locally wherever needed. Our ambition was to add as much capacity to the NHS as possible, through our team of 2,500 healthcare professionals.

By providing additional training and creating flexibility within our own workforce, more than 1,000 members of staff were ready to be redeployed into the NHS – from working on the COVID-19 frontline and supporting administrative roles, to being available in the Nightingale hospitals and COVID-19 testing centres – every available member of staff was on hand.

From a service perspective, InHealth dedicated equipment, facilities and resource to the pandemic, including:

  • CT scanning: our entire fleet of CT scanners was dedicated to the NHS
  • NHS 111 service: at the request of the London Ambulance Service (LAS), we repurposed our Patient Referral Centre in Rochdale to support handling COVID-19 calls
  • Reporting: we invested in purchasing and installing a number of reporting work stations to allow appropriately qualified Radiographers to remotely report plain-film x-rays from home
  • Booking COVID-19 tests: our booking team from Diabetic Eye Screening Programmes was made available to book COVID-19 tests for NHS staff across the south of the country

More than 2,500 InHealth staff focussed their total attention on supporting the NHS, on top of the equipment and resources made available.

InHealth was also able to continue providing patients with vital access to a number of services, despite the pandemic. Although our Breast Screening service in Surrey was temporarily suspended, we repurposed our screening centre to provide a diagnostic service for women in that region with breast cancer symptoms. This allowed the clinical pathway for those women to continue, whilst the symptomatic service remained unavailable at the local Trust due to COVID-19.

Feedback from staff has been incredibly positive, across our dedicated COVID-19 projects:

“Everyone has been so incredibly welcoming under such pressured circumstances. I have so far found the whole experience incredibly humbling and rewarding, and I am thankful for the opportunity to help out.”

“I volunteered on the CT scanning project; I have really enjoyed the opportunity to see another aspect of the company, I found it really interesting and nice to back within the patient care setting instead of my lounge! The people I have met over the shifts have been lovely, friendly and very patient considering this is completely different from my usual role.”

“I am extremely grateful that InHealth has supported my decision to work with the NHS on a COVID-19 ICU ward. To be able to help out in such challenging times on the frontline with such a dedicated and skilled team is a privilege”.

“To be able to help during this pandemic is very rewarding. NHS Trust staff have been amazing in supporting us and providing all the training required not to forget appropriate PPE.”

We are incredibly proud of all of our colleagues for their dedication, commitment and passion – without them, we would not have been able to support the NHS in this way.

We are incredibly proud of all of our colleagues for their dedication, commitment and passion – without them, we would not have been able to support the NHS in this way.