UCL students and staff step up to help the NHS

Both students and staff step up to the national call and help tackle Covid-19

Both students and staff from University College London have taken it upon themselves to support the NHS in this time of name. Academic staff are becoming frontline staff supporting the already existing medical teams in an effort to combat Covid-19. Meanwhile medical students are trying to help frontline staff maintain their lives whilst they manage the pressures of this global pandemic.

On Thursday 12th of March, UCL’s Senior Management Team decided to release all clinical academics to support the NHS as the situation with Covid-19 worsens throughout the UK.

Vice Provost Professor David Lomas, said:  “Many of our clinical academics may shortly be asked to support clinical services as the NHS faces increased pressure during the coronavirus outbreak. We have taken the decision to release colleagues from their UCL responsibilities to enable them to take a decision on this. “

Those academics who do choose to provide support for the NHS will have their duties reassigned and grant funded staff will have their funding addressed.

The university have also stressed that it is a personal choice for all staff whether they want to undertake clinical duties and will not be mandatory.

Coronavirus experts

Some of the staff mobilising to help support the NHS

On March 20th Undergraduate Medics from UCL Medical School volunteered to use their spare time to help those critical NHS staff who have household responsibilities so they can keep up their work on the frontline. From childcare, to dog walking and other care responsibilities, UCL Medics have set up the organisation ‘North London Medical Students Helping Hands.’.

They said that they recognised the national ‘call to action’ and want to help in any way they can. Inspired by students from Edinburgh who set up a similar organisation ‘Edinburgh Medics Share’, UCL have co-ordinated with over 30 medical schools nationwide to support frontliners.

One of the co-ordinators, fourth year, Connor Tugulu from UCL Medical School released this statement to UCL:

‘Medical Students Helping Hands initiative aims to provide support to doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, who will desperately need practical help the Covid-19 pandemic puts untold strain on the NHS.

Over the next few weeks and months key health workers could face longer shifts and last-minute changes to rotas and having network of ‘ready to go’ babysitting, childcare and household support could become essential, if they are to remain on the frontline in these challenging times.

It will not be long before we are working in the same hospitals and wards, and during this time of national crisis, we want to play our part in relieving some of the burden our great NHS staff will face.’

Student placements have been suspended by UCL and most other London Medical Schools which has provided these students with more free time allowing them to carry out this vital work.

All students involved in the scheme will also be required to get a DBS check to make sure they are fit to carry out this role, which will come as a reassurance to staff leaving their children in the care of these students.

Professor Deborah Gill, Director of UCL Medical School, said: “I am truly proud of the action of our students. We select our students based on the alignment of their values with NHS values; this is testament to the fact we have absolutely chosen the right young people to become future UCL doctors.”

More information about Helping Hands and their work in both London and nationwide can be found here.