Supporting NHSScotland’s battle against COVID-19 has turned out to be a family affair for Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group (SAPG) lead Jacqui Sneddon.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected families across the country in lots of different ways. Some of us can’t get to see our loved ones due to social distancing. For others, it’s been about spending much more time together at home than we might ordinarily do.
My family is no different. My husband Andy and I haven’t been able to see our eldest daughter, Nancy, for quite a few weeks now, as she lives with her fiancé. Our younger daughter, Melanie, is living back at home after six years away. On top of that, Nancy, Melanie and I are all working in NHS roles, either helping out on the frontline or helping vital services to continue during this strange and difficult time.
Nancy works in a Mental Health team and they are having to adapt to new ways of delivering services to ensure patient care can be maintained.
For Melanie, a medical student, while her hospital placements have been suspended until August, she was keen support the NHS. She is now working as an NHS24 call handler, dealing with calls on the COVID 111 line. While not a clinical role it has been a valuable opportunity to develop her communication skills and support people worried about their symptoms.
“When I started work at St John’s Hospital, Livingston, back in 1990, I couldn’t have imagined that what I’d learn there would one day result in me leading a national work programme to protect a vital group of medicines.”
My work, meanwhile, has seen me step away from my day to day role as project lead for SAPG and return to a role I last did 18 years ago: clinical pharmacist in an intensive care unit (ICU)
When I started work at St John’s Hospital, Livingston, back in 1990, I couldn’t have imagined that what I’d learn there would one day result in me leading a national work programme to protect a vital group of medicines.
I worked at St John’s for 12 years managing the Aseptic Unit which prepared intravenous antibiotics for patients across the hospital and was also the ICU pharmacist. It was this work that sparked my interest in use of antibiotics. Through multidisciplinary ward rounds in ICU that involved myself and the Consultant Microbiologist, I learned a great deal about appropriate antibiotic use, and the fact that as a group of medicines, antibiotics were at risk of over-use, something which could have significant consequences.
“I’m very conscious of the challenges my daughters are facing in their current working lives … and proud of the fact that our family is helping support NHSScotland’s COVID-19 efforts.”
To prepare for going back to ICU I had to apply for a PVG Disclosure certificate as I only had a basic Disclosure, but there is a rapid process for this. NHS Lothian has a specific training programme for pharmacists returning or moving into critical care practice, and there are some excellent resources from NES and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
My role is to support the ICU pharmacist. This involves reviewing patients in both the COVID ICU (done virtually) and the ‘clean’ ICU which involves ward visits as these patients don’t have COVID-19. The principles of the work are similar to my past experience, but now all patient episodes are available online via the Trakcare system which makes it easier to find the information required to review potential medication issues. The rest of the hospital is fairly quiet as currently there is no planned surgery.
While my work with SAPG is far removed from the front line, it’s been useful to see what life is like for my colleagues at St John’s – it’s certainly helped me to refresh my memory and appreciate the challenges they face.
I’m also very conscious of the challenges my daughters are facing in their current working lives. I’m proud of my girls, and the fact that our family is helping support NHSScotland’s COVID-19 efforts, but I do worry that one of us could become ill. It’s also been a bit of an adjustment to go from having no kids at home to having one back full time and the other you just can’t see, but we’re dealing with it as best we can, keeping in touch using FaceTime and our family WhatsApp group. What we’re all really looking forward to is lockdown being lifted so we can finally celebrate Andy’s 60th birthday together – he hit the milestone back in April, so being able to celebrate as a family will be the icing on the cake.
Jacqui Sneddon is Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group (SAPG) lead with Healthcare Improvement Scotland.