Returning to the front line

Aviva Senior Clinical Consultant Adam Hayward reports on his return to help the NHS.

As part of our commitment to helping the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic we are supporting any medically qualified employees who want to return to work for the NHS during the crisis.

For Adam Hayward, Senior Clinical Consultant in Aviva’s UK Health and Protection business, stepping forward to support his local NHS Trust in Southampton was an easy decision.

Adam Hayward

With a varied clinical and NHS background, Adam started off nursing before specialising in intensive care and anaesthetics, then moving into trauma management, then surgical practitioner practice. Before moving to his current role at Aviva, Adam spent 10 years in management roles for the NHS, dealing with areas including commissioning and operations.

Adam, who started his return to the front line at the end of March, reported on his first few days:

“When the Government’s ‘call to action’ came, I knew I had to volunteer. It’s my professional and ethical duty to do so. It’s about doing the right thing.

When the Government’s ‘call to action’ came, I knew I had to volunteer.

"The NHS trained me, gave me experience and a whole host of qualifications – I couldn’t let those skills go to waste – even if it meant that I can help save just one extra life.

“I turned up for day 1 of my 2-days’ training an hour early to acclimatise to somewhere I’ve never worked. I’m glad I did as I spent most of this hour getting lost in the vastness that is the University Hospital Southampton.

“Many of the usual routes were closed, with security directing people down alternative, safer, routes.

"To add to the challenge, I was still waiting to be issued with my new ID and appeared to be the only person not in uniform. It turns out that my Aviva pass is about as much use as my video membership card in this situation!

It turns out that my Aviva pass is about as much use as my video membership card in this situation!

“The training covered a range of practical skills and the Trust’s processes and policies. The trainers did an amazing job condensing topics that would usually take weeks to learn into just two intensive sessions.

“One part of the training that really struck me was the stark reality of life in ICU during a pandemic. I already understood the risks. After all, due to its nature you’re dealing with the sickest and often most infectious patients. But what I wasn’t ready for was the reality that in order to protect themselves and their patients, clinicians may need to make difficult decisions that challenge the ethical and professional codes they are taught.

“I’ve never faced this situation before, but the hospital is doing everything in its power to protect its staff and patients.

“After the training we were allocated our new roles. I’m returning to my roots to support the Neurological Intensive Care Unit. This means that I’ll be in a ‘clean’ area of the hospital treating patients with neurological conditions.

“It’s all too easy to focus on COVID-19 and lose sight of the fact that the usual patient ‘footfall’ doesn’t stop during a pandemic. Seriously unwell people don’t miraculously get getter. University Hospital Southampton is leading the way as a tertiary centre of excellence which still needs to cater for areas such as cardiac and neuro emergencies. It’s not just a case of being able to delay non-essential planned surgery. 

“Although I’m in a ‘clean’ area of the hospital, I’ll be in full PPE - which is kind of like a space suit. The (welcome) challenge is that it gets very hot and most of the time people can only take about 2-3 hours before needing a break, fluids and of course the bathroom! I’m not complaining though. The Trust takes its staff and patient welfare extremely seriously. And, I feel very fortunate to have this additional protection.

I’m glad to be able to do my bit to help

“I’m glad to be able to do my bit to help continue to offer the high levels of support and specialist care these patients need. I’m entering my new role with a little trepidation but I’m also looking forward to getting things right. What I mean by this is spotting clinical signs, diagnosing patients correctly and giving them the right treatment.

“ICU practitioners are pretty autonomous, which is great for one’s learning and experience but also daunting when you’re starting out. However, just like my previous ICU’s – The Royal London and St. Barts – the teams are fantastic and really supportive, with much needed humour and camaraderie to the fore.

“And the organisation is terrific here, in terms of how they deploy and train. It really is impressive, particularly as the understanding of what we’re dealing with keeps changing. Even though it’s been a while since I was last working in ICU my training has come flooding back. After all its not brain surgery – oh hang on that’s exactly what it is….”

Aviva has provided all its UK employees who used to work in a clinical role for the NHS the option to return, for up to three months and will ensure that those who do maintain their full Aviva salary. Aviva’s UK employees are also able to use their volunteer leave (21 hours annually) in order to support people affected by the Coronavirus.

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