12 May 2021
Falkirk Community Trust Staff Supporting NHS Forth Valley
Since Autumn of 2020, Falkirk Community Trust (FCT) has been supporting several NHS Forth Valley programmes, including Flu Vaccination, COVID Vaccination, Mobile Testing Units and a Fixed Asymptomatic Test Site involving several Trust operated sites.
Since Autumn of 2020, Falkirk Community Trust (FCT) has been supporting several NHS Forth Valley programmes, including Flu Vaccination, COVID Vaccination, Mobile Testing Units and a Fixed Asymptomatic Test Site involving several Trust operated sites. As 40 Trust staff completed their final shift at the Forth Valley College on the evening of Sunday 18 April, we have been reflecting on this unprecedented experience.
Flu Vaccination Programme
The three Town Halls operated by the Trust; Falkirk Town Hall, Grangemouth Town Hall and Bo’ness Town Hall were all utilised by the NHS as Flu Vaccination centres. A great deal of preparation and planning was required by both Trust and NHS staff to deliver a vaccination centre for those over 50 years of age, the elderly and the vulnerable, in non-clinical surroundings and during a pandemic. Trust staff were asked to return from furlough to prepare and operate the facilities. Risk assessments were completed in partnership with the NHS and effective joint operational tasks were provided by the NHS and the Trust to deliver the programme.
COVID Vaccination Programme
As a result of the success of the operation of the Flu Vaccination centres, the NHS approached the Trust for assistance with their COVID Vaccination centres, which are still in operation in our Town Halls in Falkirk, Grangemouth and Bo’ness. Once again, additional Trust staff were asked to return from furlough and provided with the necessary training.
As the Government recognised the need to vaccinate more people quicker, Falkirk’s Forth Valley College Campus was established as a large-scale facility that could also be utilised as an additional Vaccination Centre for the area. FCT staff were asked to help by undertaking the role of marshals and approximately 40 staff came forward to help. Their support has been much appreciated by all who have attended the centre and NHS Scotland medical staff alike.
Victoria Bonnie, Soft Play Assistant at the Mariner Centre, said “Working at the Forth Valley College Vaccination Centre was a fantastic experience, I got to see how hard the staff at the NHS work and how well the whole clinic worked overall. I also gained valuable experience working with people from all walks of the community and thoroughly enjoyed helping, caring and calming patients. As I return to my job at The Great Mariner Reef Soft Play, I will be taking with me this valuable experience and a new set of skills, including better communication skills and more experience dealing with the general public, who I’ve really missed working with. I will also take with me a thorough understanding of the restrictions which have been necessary, how important the vaccination programme is and the guidance in place to protect our staff and customers.”
Mobile Testing Units (MTUs)
Over the winter, as UK infection rates climbed and with a high level of infections being recorded throughout the Forth Valley for a period of some months, NHS Forth Valley introduced ‘Mobile Testing Units’ (MTUs). Numerous requests for the establishment of these sites were made of the Trust and often at short notice. The MTUs were set up in facility car parks and staffed by NHS paramedics.
Fixed Asymptomatic Test Sites
In addition to the MTUs and in recognition of the relatively high number of positive tests being found within the general Forth Valley area at that time, the need for the establishment of a ‘Fixed Asymptomatic Test Site’ (ATS), was identified by NHS Forth Valley. The Trust proposed Polmont Sports Centre and upon inspection by military personnel, who by this time were providing support to Forth Valley NHS, deemed it appropriate for use. The facility was set up and operated by military personnel within a week’s notice from 24 March, handing over to Trust staff on 7 April. Trust staff now operate this AST on behalf of NHS Forth Valley, with an expected closure date of 23 May 2021.
Steve Higson, Tour Guide at the Kelpies said “Working at the Polmont site is a great experience, as ever it is fabulous to work as part of a larger Trust team of staff. Working in this role is a real privilege and part of my job is to occasionally inform residents who are waiting for their result that they have a negative test result which I enjoy, as well as knowing I am helping to make a difference when we do have the occasional positive result, meaning we can help stop the spread of the virus.”
Maureen Campbell OBE, Chief Executive of FCT said “Like so many other organisations, we have been delighted to support NHS Forth Valley with their requests throughout the period of the pandemic. Our staff have provided a positive response to all requests and demonstrated our customer oriented ‘can-do’ approach that has been much valued by NHS Forth Valley. I am extremely proud of the hard work, motivation and support provided by our staff. They have been magnificent in their response and often had to amend their working arrangements at short notice and work within the most unusual and challenging environments to meet the needs of the specific support required.”