AT Medics is a primary care organisation that manages 35 GP practices employing over 800 staff, including 100 GPs in some of the most socio-economically disadvantaged areas of London.
What was the aim/problem?
AT Medics collaborated with Brent Clinical Commissioning Group to provide a COVID-19 ‘hot hub’ (patient assessment centre) across Brent. It also provided a key worker testing service able to test hundreds of people weekly. With evidence emerging that COVID-19 was disproportionately affecting black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities – and with Brent having the second highest BAME population in England (Census 2011), while AT Medics employs many BAME staff – the organisations needed to manage the risk to their staff of falling ill from COVID-19.
What was the solution?
AT Medics people managers used a risk assessment framework and NHS Employers’ guidance when deploying staff. They took account of factors such as long-term conditions, immuno-suppression, age and ethnicity to identify staff requiring an escalated approach. Careful communication guided staff to work from home with enhanced IT support. For staff continuing to work in practice sites, the organisation co-ordinated early investment into adequate PPE, cleaning equipment and patient signage.
What were the challenges?
AT Medics had to quickly establish remote working for over 800 staff within seven days. Solutions included cloud-based working, new laptops and support for staff using their own devices, as well as an all-encompassing online consultation platform, Dr. iQ, for patients and staff.
What were the results?
Staff felt empowered and protected through the organisational IT and PPE provisions and could contribute effectively to the COVID-19 response, whether on site or remotely. AT Medics’ training and education for its staff throughout this period has also been shared widely across England to support other COVID-19 hot hubs and general practices.
AT Medics has provided well over 3,000 consultations and tests for COVID-19 suspected or positive patients across Brent. Staff have recounted their satisfaction in being involved in delivering the service for one of London’s most vulnerable communities.
What were the learning points?
Constant communication was key. Time was taken to produce engaging and user-friendly videos and guides, made available through BrentHotHub.co.uk and accessible on a variety of platforms, including the AT Medics learning management system. The organisation could quickly introduce new team members joining the service.
Staff engagement is important. Healthcare professionals appreciated that when a staff member was redeployed to work from home, they were given equal responsibility in another part of the organisation (for example, close work with patients through Dr. iQ, the online consultation platform).
Engaging the community made a huge difference. Local businesses provided the hot hub staff with 3D printed visors and daily meals cost-free. Working with the local pharmacy, London Ambulance Service and NHS trust established an integrated approach to the management of COVID-19 patients across Brent.
Want to know more?
Contact Omar Din, CEO, AT Medics: firstname.lastname@example.org
For examples of the communications used to support staff safety and risk assessment at the Brent COVID hot hub, please visit brenthothub.co.uk/#resources