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Nursing experts from St George's and Kingston give vital training to frontline NHS workers

Published: 03 June 2020

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Leading critical care and nursing experts from St George’s, University of London and Kingston University have been seconded to deliver vital intensive care training to NHS staff on the frontline to help battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Stephen McKeever, Johannes Mellinghoff and Siby Sikhamoni, who are part of the School of Nursing in the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, were called upon to help increase the capacity of intensive care nurses at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Usually, critically ill patients are cared for by an experienced intensive care nurse on a one-to-one basis. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has meant diluting care, with one intensive care nurse caring for up to six critically ill patients. This increased need has seen support workers, such as healthcare assistants, ward nurses and other allied health care professionals being drafted in to aid and relieve some of the pressure faced by critical care.

Therefore, our nursing experts have provided training and support for nurses who are new to the intensive care environment. This involves giving practical sessions in a simulation setting and equipping newly-qualified healthcare professionals, and experienced nurses who have not had the chance to renew their education in recent years, with up-to-date critical care knowledge and practices.

Dr McKeever, Mr Mellinghoff and Mrs Sikhamoni, who are continuing to teach the University’s students remotely on their non-secondment days, have all been called upon due to their extensive knowledge and experience in the field.

Mr Mellinghoff, who has worked in general intensive care, is the current chair of the Nursing and Allied Healthcare Professional Committee of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Mrs Sikhamoni’s work in improving the quality of care provided by healthcare professionals within the critical care setting saw her win a Royal College of Nursing Institute award. Dr McKeever, who started his career as an adult intensive care nurse, is the forum chair for the Royal College of Nursing’s Children and Young People’s Acute Care Steering Committee and a member of several intensive and critical care societies.

Mr Mellinghoff was grateful to return to the frontline during the pandemic alongside his colleagues. “We are committed to helping our colleagues and friends in practice at a time when resources are scarce. I joined the profession to make a difference and I’m delighted I have the opportunity to do so,” he said.

Ms Sikhamoni said her role at St George’s and Kingston has equipped her with the necessary tools to deliver the intensive care education and training to frontline workers. “It’s not easy to understand what patients and carers are going through in these difficult times but we can use the experience we have gained from our careers and pass this on to the staff we are training,” she said.

Dr McKeever believes the knowledge and experience he gains from the role will benefit his students when he returns to full-time teaching. “Having recent clinical experience can enhance teaching of the next generation of nurses,” he said.

“Being able to draw on my Covid-19 experience, I will be able to support students returning from practice.”

Head of the School of Nursing at Kingston and St George’s Dr Julia Gale said her talented staff would help towards saving lives. “This recognition is a testimony that our staff are highly skilled and valued in equipping the NHS workforce with the skills to save lives and protect the public. I am so proud to have such talented people in the School of Nursing and I want to thank my staff for putting themselves forward during these unprecedented times,” she said.

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