Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex hears experiences of colleagues working through the pandemic

Today, Wednesday 17 March 2021, Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex visited colleagues from Somerset NHS Foundation Trust via video call, to hear about their experiences working through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Countess of Wessex met Somerset NHS Foundation Trust Chief Operating Officer for Hospital Services Matthew Bryant; Mr Colin Drummond OBE DL, Chairman of Somerset NHS Foundation Trust; and Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, Mrs Anne Maw, along with representatives from different teams and services across the NHS trust.

Colleagues from the trust recounted their recent experiences of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and how this had impacted on them and their roles. The Countess heard from colleagues in frontline nursing, mental health, emergency and intensive care roles, as well as junior doctors and the joint chair of the trust’s multicultural colleague network. Colleagues who shared their experiences with The Countess also included those in cleaning and facilities roles, and community district nursing, and administrative support roles from across the county, including from our community hospitals in Crewkerne and Bridgwater, and from the Somerset COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The Countess heard how Somerset NHS Foundation Trust had to respond quickly and reconfigure services in order to care for potentially large numbers of patients with coronavirus, including those who needed help with their breathing, as well as continue to provide services for patients who did not have COVID-19 and ensuring all patients had appropriate support following discharge from hospital.

During the visit, HRH paid tribute to all colleagues working at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and thanked them for their contributions sacrifices and hard work, whilst noting how challenging this past year will also have been personally for everyone, in addition to their work in the NHS.

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust Chief Operating Officer for Hospital Services, Matthew Bryant, said:

“We were honoured to host a visit from Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex today and share some of our recent experiences from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Somerset. We’re immensely proud of all of our dedicated and hardworking colleagues, who have worked through the most difficult and challenging year we have experienced. They have continued to provide excellent services, making the right decisions for patients and supporting each other, despite working longer hours, often in new environments and under difficult circumstances.

“At the same time, we see how the pandemic has brought much disruption and heartbreak to the families and loved ones of our patients, and our colleagues have found new and innovative ways of supporting families, and helping them to stay in touch with their loved ones.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all our colleagues and partners who have worked so tirelessly, and sacrificed so much, in order to continue to provide vital health and care services for the people of Somerset, whilst also setting up and delivering a once-in-a-generation vaccine programme.”