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Council workers volunteer to support hospital’s critical care teams through rise in coronavirus cases

Redeployed workers from city council services that have temporarily closed during the lockdown, as well as staff who are giving their own time, have taken on volunteer roles to support Royal Stoke hospital’s critical care unit.

Fifteen staff from Stoke-on-Trent City Council services including leisure centres, workforce learning development, housing management, IT, procurement and the City Music School, have taken on the roles to help the hospital to respond to a rise in coronavirus cases.

The volunteers are being given a full induction and support, and will start their work at the hospital from next week (Monday, 18 January). A further eight staff will follow in a second wave of support. All the workers will help with tasks non-clinical tasks including:

  • Housekeeping, cleaning administration desk and cupboards associated with those areas.
  • Supporting hospital staff to get into PPE and take off PPE.
  • Telephone call handling and administering for the clinical pod teams, so that messages get to the right staff promptly and are responded to swiftly.
  • Replenishing stocks in the clinical pods.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “We’re at a critical phase in our city’s fight against the coronavirus. Case rates across the country have continued to rise, and although they haven’t risen as quickly in Stoke-on-Trent compared to a number of other areas, the increase is deeply alarming.

“Like in previous lockdowns when a number of our services had to temporarily closed, we have redeployed staff to keep other critical services going. This has seen leisure staff retrain as binmen and librarians join the hugely successful #StokeonTrentTogether support network to help vulnerable people.

“We’re only too pleased to support our colleagues in the NHS at this most challenging of times. The demand on our hospital is severe, and the vast majority of our staff are local residents themselves, who want to give their support and make a difference to get our city through this. I’m really proud of the volunteers and wish them every success in the work that they’ll be doing.”

Latest figures show that the seven-day rate of coronavirus cases in the city is 448.2 per 100,000 people, for the week 31 December to 6 January. This figure is up 54.9 per cent on the previous seven days. The percentage of people who have had a test and tested positive is 14.3 per cent.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “Every measure is being taken to support the volunteers so that they can hit the ground running and free up clinical hospital staff to continue their crucial work in treating coronavirus patients (CHECK).

“This virus is real, and it kills. It is vitally important that everyone follows the national public health guidelines. We need to stop the chain of infection so that you, your relatives, your loved ones do not need medical attention, do not end up in hospital, and do not put your lives or the lives of others at risk.”

The rise in hospital coronavirus cases is such that University Hospital North Midlands NHS Trust, the trust that runs Royal Stoke, has moved to its highest alert level, level four. This means that elective treatments and other services will be reduced so that staff can be redeployed to the most important areas, allowing the trust to cope with the rising pressures being imposed by the coronavirus. As of 5 January, there were 335 patients with Covid being treated at UHNM, including 36 in critical care.

Tracy Bullock, chief executive of University Hospitals North Midlands NHS Trust, said: “We are seeing a significant rise in Covid-19 cases requiring a hospital admission and intensive care and as part of our planning we are working with local health and social care partners including the local authorities to identify areas where we might be able to support each other with mutual aid.

“We know the forthcoming weeks and months are set to get even more challenging and we are taking additional action now to ensure we are ready for further cases. Our health and care colleagues continue to do a fantastic job in the face of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, putting themselves at risk as they do so and we are extremely grateful for the offer of some additional resource from the city council to support our teams in our Critical Care Unit. Volunteers from the council will be carrying a range of duties from housekeeping and answering the phone from concerned family members to helping clinical staff get into and out of their personal protection equipment.

“Any staff who temporarily work with us will be provided all the essential training and support they need to keep our patients, staff and themselves safe and we look forward to welcoming them into our UHNM family.”

She added: "The public can also do their bit by using the most appropriate service for their needs – whether that’s their local GP practice, Minor Injuries Unit, Urgent Treatment Centre or pharmacy - and avoiding A&E unless absolutely necessary and by following the national guidance to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

For the latest information on council services and support during the coronavirus, and frequently asked questions, please visit For latest health advice on the coronavirus, please visit, and for further information on the virus visit residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated. If residents have symptoms, please get tested. All residents must continue to follow the guidance of wash hands, cover face and make space.

For more information on digital services, visit, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.

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