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Their helpfulness, kindness and humour got us through

20th November 2020

PPE Drivers West Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust Phil

Submitted by Sandra Rawlings, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

At a time when most of the country was staying at home isolating, two volunteers stepped forward to help the NHS and their community by driving around West Sussex delivering PPE equipment to multiple Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust sites.

At the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic, one of the big issues we faced was keeping our hospitals supplied with PPE equipment. Being a Community Trust we have lots of sites over a large geographical area, so to keep all our sites supplied with PPE was a huge logistical issue. We put out a call for volunteers to help our staff at local PPE distribution hubs to deliver this vital equipment out to our hospitals.

In West Sussex, our first recruit was an existing volunteer Tony, who is retired and has been volunteering with us since July 2019 as a Ward Helper. He was a friendly face on the Ward, speaking with patients, serving teas & coffees, and was popular with staff due to his compassion and reliability. He was shortly joined by Phil, an air traffic controller who was put on furlough due to C-19 who had contacted us to see if he could do anything to help us out. They worked with our distribution hub staff based at Bognor Regis War Memorial Hospital between March and the end of July, when the distribution hub closed. Tony is waiting to return to his volunteering role on the Ward and Phil has gone back to his job, but hopes to be able to continue as a volunteer with the Trust.

PPE Drivers West Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust Tony

“My role involved delivering PPE to various settings within the trust. I delivered in the afternoons and a fellow volunteer covered the mornings all co-ordinated by an NHS team member and between us we distributed almost 28,000 items. During my time I was struck by the number and wide spread of settings that the Community Trust covers and was always welcomed with a smile although hard to detect sometimes with a face mask in place!! I found the whole experience extremely rewarding on a number of levels, not least that it gave me a sense of purpose at a time when things were uncertain to say the least. I am now back controlling planes but I have kept contact and as soon as things have settled I will be returning in whatever role we can find that allows me to continue volunteering. “ Phil – Volunteer PPE driver.

Tony & Phil delivered almost 28,000 pieces of PPE equipment. Between them they drove 2491 miles, made 259 deliveries and gave 89 hours of their time to the Trust. They worked at different times to ensure staff always had support; they saved staff valuable time and most importantly were able to ensure our staff were supplied with vital PPE. They were team players and extremely reliable making them invaluable members of the distribution hub team during the pandemic. We greatly appreciate the willingness of both Tony & Phil to offer their support to us during a very difficult time. This was all carried out with a smile and much kindness shown to our staff.

Neither of these men will think they have done anything remarkable, but to us their contribution was outstanding.

“Tony and Phil, the PPE drivers at Bognor Hospital made a big difference and provided the ability to deliver PPE directly to clinical staff every day. They provided a delivery run each morning and afternoon to trust teams based across West Sussex. This meant that operational teams could request PPE and receive the delivery within one working day. This level of responsiveness reassured staff that they could get the PPE they needed to do their jobs safely and allowed them to focus on clinical care.

They learnt to navigate around the county and used their initiative to find some hard to locate sites and then made sure that they found the right person to deliver the PPE to. At the more complicated sites with multiple teams and organisations working there this wasn’t always easy and could take some persistence to complete the delivery. Tony and Phil have a positive approach and would share their good humour with staff, often bringing a smile to staff working in difficult circumstances. They took care to do the job well and would always offer to do more. Their helpfulness, kindness and humour has been much appreciated.” Vanessa Dallas, Head of Service Development and PMO

“Both Phil and Tony were very supportive to me as I took over the admin of PPE mid-way through the distribution period and without them I would have been lost! They were both pivotal to work being undertaken in delivery of PPE around the county, and worked in a very professional manner and there is no doubt that their hard work was appreciated by the teams and services they were delivering to. Phil and Tony really did go the extra mile and made a difference during a very difficult time for the NHS.” Wilma Thomas, Carers Health Team Lead.

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