Posted on: 12 May 2020

For herculean tasks many say the phrase Rome wasn’t built in a day as an estimated completion time. However, when faced with the herculean task of setting up the PPE Hub, the team, led by Alison Butler Associate Director of Programme Management and Trustwide Quality Improvement (QI) Programme Lead, completed it overnight. The PPE hub sends PPE equipment, uniforms, patient testing swabs and staff testing swabs to all of CNWL’s 150 sites. Maybe if the PPE team built Rome, that famous phrase wouldn’t exist today.

For the past seven weeks the PPE Hub team have taken over Trust HQ and been working hard to deliver vital equipment to all of the Trust’s frontline staff. Gradually improving and refining their processes along the way the team have gone from sending 3 boxes in a day to an average of 93 boxes of PPE every day last week. Extraordinarily, the team of nine have managed to better themselves by sending 143 boxes in just one day.

Rachel Catford, who is usually Partnerships and Development Manager wants it to be known that after packing so many boxes, one thing is for certain, she “knows how to pack a good PPE box”.

Driven by a personal commitment to alleviate anxieties and worries of frontline staff, the team went not just the extra mile but an extra few miles. Personal calls were made to services to offer reassurance that PPE is on its way, in fact most communication was done by phone so services had numbers to call if they felt worried. 

Alison Butler said, “Communicating primarily over the phone helped us create a personal service that showed staff we’ve got their back. Speaking to staff drove us to roll up our sleeves and get PPE out to services, it was as close to Amazon Prime as you can get - I even got in my own car and delivered PPE myself.”

The team was mainly made up of corporate staff from CNWL HQ, but one team member came out of retirement specifically to help the PPE team. After 27 years with CNWL, Sam Pisano retired in June 2019, but once the pandemic began to take hold in the country Sam re-joined CNWL to volunteer. Speaking about her time with the PPE team Sam said, “The people I’m working with are amazing. There have been a few times I’ve felt emotional, and others have felt the same, so we all shared our experiences together. When someone from a service visited HQ to thank us, I realised how important the team’s role was in getting PPE out to our staff to protect them and the patients.  When I came back I wanted to help in some way, so I’m really happy I’ve been able to do that.”

As the majority of the team return to their usual roles within the Trust, the PPE hub will continue to deliver vital PPE equipment to CNWL’s services with a new dedicated team and warehouse in Brent.

Bridget Browne, QI Programme Manager said, “Thank you to everyone in the team for all they have done and for the laughter during this difficult time. I want to give a special mention to David Mansfield from estates, who came out of retirement to ensure deliveries went from the hub to frontline staff quickly and effectively.”

Although the team won’t miss the paper cuts, breaking down boxes, counting goggle lenses and the bruises from the cages carrying stock, they will miss each other.

Laura Ellis, Contracts Support Officer for Goodall Division said, “The team have been great, we kept ourselves light hearted despite the situation and worked really well together. We checked if everyone was okay, if they needed help and ensured we all took breaks.” Rachel Catford, Partnerships and Development Manager said, “For a group of people who didn’t know each other we bonded quickly and there was a nice sense of team. If any of us were off to the store room we always asked does anyone need anything.”

The PPE Hub team have shown, a caring team with a personal want and determination to help, can provide a lifeline in a difficult situation.

The team has planned a reunion for when the pandemic is over and they are looking forward to celebrating their achievements and hard work.