COVID-19 reached Wales on 28th February 2020, with the first case recorded in Cardiff and the Vale just a week later on 5th March 2020.
As the cases began to rapidly rise and Welsh Government modelling predicting a catastrophic surge in cases, all non-urgent outpatient appointments and operations were suspended to protect NHS Wales from becoming overwhelmed. On 23rd March 2020 the first UK-wide lockdown was announced, with the nation told to Stay Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.
Our staff were faced with an immense challenge and we had to think differently to keep ahead of the virus whilst protecting our co-workers, patients and community. The response to the first wave of COVID-19 created huge operational pressures with everyone doing their utmost to fight the virus.
In these dark days the compassion, selflessness and dedication from NHS staff, keyworkers, volunteers, our partners and community became a shining light. Across the Health Board almost every of a member of staff, from every directorate has their own story to share about working life during the
Personal Protected Equipment (PPE) became an essential part of daily life and staff made a commitment to comply with physical distancing measures, working together whilst remaining 2 metres apart.
Critical care and B7 respiratory ward staff worked long hours wearing hot and uncomfortable PPE caring for critically ill patients. Our housekeeping teams worked around the clock cleaning hospital sites numerous times throughout the day, and laboratory staff were inundated with samples that had to be rapidly tested. In the Spotlight: Medical Biochemistry, Immunology and Toxicology – Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (NHS Wales)
To limit the spread of COVID-19 the Test, Trace and Protect (TTP) programme was launched, and we continued to work in collaboration with Cardiff Council and Vale of Glamorgan Council to protect our population.
An army of contact tracers worked tirelessly to identify potential contacts, advise on self-isolation and rapidly ensure individuals were tested.
An essential part of our early response was testing, with community testing units set up across Cardiff and the Vale. This was yet another example of partnership working, with redeployed staff and the Armed Forces becoming critical in helping control the spread of the virus.
Our Community Testing Unit teams in Splott and Whitchurch were made-up entirely of redeployed staff and volunteers. The military supported the management of our Mobile Testing Units with individuals from the Ministry of Defence’s 1st Battalion The Rifles and Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Support Battalion stepping in to oversee logistics.
During what was an unprecedented period of uncertainty involved tremendous personal sacrifices being made by our staff, partners and the general public. In a time of great need we came together, with this sense of “collectiveness” providing a lifeline during what has been and continues to be, a difficult time for us all.