Former hospital employee returns as QEQM volunteer during coronavirus outbreak

Jason Eldridge is volunteering at QEQM

By Liz Crudgington

A former East Kent Hospitals employee, who has returned to help colleagues at QEQM in pharmacy, says the experience has given him a new-found respect for the NHS.

Jason Eldridge now works as a civil servant full time, managing a policy team in the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales, but is giving up time at weekends to volunteer at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate during the coronavirus outbreak.

He had no hesitation in stepping forward after receiving an email asking if he would be interested in returning, and re-registered on the General Pharmaceutical Council’s temporary register so he could help out.

He said: “I trained at QEQM and I have kept in touch with some of the team so it is lovely to be able to repay some of what the Trust gave me.

“They took me on and gave me a chance and I am pleased to be able to help out at this challenging time. I know how integral pharmacy is to the running of the hospital, from ensuring patients receive the drug treatments they need on the wards to arranging for adequate supplies on discharge.

“Going back reminds me of all the reasons I wanted to do the job in the first place, and it is a privilege to be able to help out in this way.”

Jason worked for the police force before joining the NHS and said volunteering was another form of public service.

He said: “Anything I can do, from stacking shelves to taking deliveries, will free up staff to do something more essential.

“There are people there who are so passionate and dedicated to their roles, and they are working in an environment that is very challenging, day in, day out. I pop in for a day then walk away again but they return every day.

“This has reminded me that there are people out there who seriously deserve respect, and it gives me the opportunity to work in a team full of them.

“They care, and they act on what they care about. They, and other NHS staff, demonstrate the very best in people: selflessness, putting themselves at risk to help others because of their belief and commitment to what they are doing.”

Jason has already completed his first shift and will be returning again this weekend – with the potential to take leave from his day-job to help out more if needed.

He is one of 161 volunteers who are helping East Kent Hospitals during the coronavirus outbreak, with others delivering snack bags to staff, helping with catering and with the linen store, as well as working as a response team to replenish supplies and assist as required across the Trust.