Anxious, scared and upset

People attending Scotland’s COVID assessment centres benefit from support, care and advice

15 June, 2020 / indepth
 Lesley Allan  

It has been a very difficult and challenging time. I’m a dental nurse working cross-site between the Paediatric Department at The Edinburgh Dental Institute and The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. I work with extremely anxious children undergoing all types of dentistry.

Lesley Allan

From the middle of March, outpatient clinics were cancelled and the Institute was also closed to patients. I was very keen to be redeployed and stressed to my line managers I would go anywhere within NHS Lothian and undertake any role to play my part. I was at home for two weeks before being redeployed to the COVID Assessment Centre at St John’s Hospital in Livingston. I was nervous to begin with; little was known about the virus, how busy we would be, and if enough PPE would be available. But the centre is extremely well managed.

Members of the public who have had symptoms for more than seven days phone 111, are triaged by a GP, and are given an appointment to attend the centre. On arrival, they are given a mask and hand gel, and they undergo observational checks carried out which include blood pressure, temperature, pulse, oxygen saturation and respiration (breaths per minute). The GP makes an assessment and decides if the patient needs to be admitted to the ward or if they can go home and self-isolate.

We will get through it together as a team – and the best team you can be part of as an employee is the NHS

Working at the centre has been a great experience, for two reasons. Firstly, the patients who attend are very anxious, scared and upset; it has been so rewarding to help these patients by giving them support, care and advice. Secondly, over the last number of years within NHS Lothian, the Hospital Dental Service and the Public Dental Service (PDS) have been undergoing a merger to create The Oral Health Service. Working at the centre has been excellent for building relationships between the dental nursing teams from both of the services. Looking ahead, I don’t think dentistry will be fully functional until the end of this year, or potentially next year. The first step for us will be putting in place a plan for consultation appointments so that we can see patients again. Working in the centre is very rewarding but I miss my role as a dental nurse and my colleagues within the paediatric department. I imagine that in our ‘new normal’ life people will have to adapt to social distancing, they will be more aware of the need to wash hands, waiting rooms will purposefully not be as busy, and we may see fewer patients in person.

It has been a strange time for us all, but we will get through it together as a team – and the best team you can be part of as an employee is the NHS.

Tags: june2020 / Scottish Dental Magazine

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