Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust case study


Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust provides emergency and non-emergency services to the residents of east Surrey, north-east West Sussex, and South Croydon, including the major towns of Crawley, Horsham, Reigate and Redhill.

What was the aim/problem?

To help reduce transmission of COVID-19, trust leaders wanted to ensure all 4,000 staff, including those in support service roles, felt safe and were using PPE appropriately. They were particularly concerned about communicating effectively with porters (transporting patients), housekeepers (making sure wards are clean, safe and attractive) and ward hosts (catering support at ward level), as many do not speak English as their first language. This was in the context of emerging evidence that COVID-19 was having a disproportionate impact on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

What was the solution?

The nursing, infection control, corporate affairs and communications teams joined forces to redesign COVID action cards for staff. These had step-by-step infographics for those whose first language is not English. Project owners consulted the trust’s BAME staff network for advice.

To raise awareness of the action cards and wider support for BAME staff, the trust ran popular drop-in sessions with social distancing for BAME staff, with experts and peers. These allowed BAME staff to discuss concerns and talk to experts, who included members of the BAME staff network, clinicians, senior leaders, peer support staff, infection control, workforce, wellbeing, communications and chaplaincy teams.

Tailored support and communications included dedicated WhatsApp groups for peer-to-peer support and to support staff who do not speak English as a first language.


This visually accessible information is now widely available in the trust to help with understanding proper application and removal of PPE and working in COVID-19 areas. Staff report that they clearly understand how to keep themselves and their colleagues safe at work.

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust is happy for other trusts to use and adapt these materials, with a credit where appropriate.

Ashley Flores, Nurse Consultant and Deputy DIPC, said: “Producing the action cards was a great opportunity to communicate information about COVID-19 to the facilities team. We very much appreciate all the hard work undertaken by hostesses, housekeepers and porters, and their important contribution to the control of infection. It is hoped that the action cards were useful in providing succinct guides on certain aspects of their work, to enhance safety for staff and patients.”

Want to know more?

Contact Donna Webster, Deputy head of communications, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust: