By Liz Crudgington
A nurse who used her skills caring for premature babies to look after critically ill adults during the coronavirus pandemic has been honoured with The British Citizen Award.
Tracey Twyman was ward manager of the Special Care Baby Unit at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate at the start of the pandemic, and stepped forward to volunteer in the adult intensive care unit with Covid-positive patients.
Her team followed suit and six of them spent three months working additional shifts with adults during the first wave.
She said: “It was quite scary for us to begin with – I’m a paediatric nurse, then I trained in neonates, so I had never looked after an adult.
“But they asked for volunteers to work alongside experienced adult critical care nurses, and I said I would go first from my team to see what it was like.
“We soon realised it was actually really similar – the patients are just much, much bigger! We had to get used to everything being supersized, but a ventilated patient is a ventilated patient, whether tiny or adult sized.”
Tracey was one of almost 50 Trust staff to receive The British Citizen Award, dubbed The People’s Honours and designed to recognise individuals doing extraordinary things for the good of the country. Just two per cent of those nominated are chosen to receive the award.
She insisted it was a team effort, adding: “I felt I took the award on behalf of everyone.”
Tracey has worked with poorly babies for 20 years, and fell in love with SCBU after her first shift there.
Now a Matron for neonates at the QEQM, and Quality Improvement Matron for the care group across the Trust, she works to enhance the team culture and support further improvements to patient care as part of the Trust’s maternity improvement work.
She said: “It is a new role for me and it’s a new challenge. But it is such interesting work and we are learning that what works in one team doesn’t necessarily work in another.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else now. It has been a tough two years but I feel like we are coming out the other side now.
“The pandemic changed a lot of things but it has helped build our teams up in so many ways and reinforced why we do what we do.”
The Trust says it has made significant changes to its maternity service in recent years, including recruiting additional consultants to provide a 24-hour consultant presence at the William Harvey Hospital, and until 10pm at the QEQM. More senior midwives have also been recruited together with additional staff, including specialist midwives.
The Trust is also working closely with the Maternity Voices Partnerships to ensure women and families are actively involved in developing and improving services.
This year, improvement plans include reviewing the hospital environment and equipment, appointing a digital midwife to help support the move to fully electronic records, and adding additional tests and scans for people at risk of pre-term labour or growth-restricted babies.