Hartlepool hospital volunteers praised for joining fight against coronavirus

Hospital bosses in Hartlepool have paid tribute to the volunteers who stepped up to help the fight against Covid-19.

Monday, 31st May 2021, 4:45 am

Over the last year, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has recruited over 100 volunteers in a range of roles – including supporting staff at the University Hospital of Hartlepool with the Novavax vaccine trial and, more recently, helping people get their vaccines.

One such volunteer is 66-year-old Sheila Atkinson, a retired bank worker from Hartlepool, who began volunteering in September in the Novavax vaccine study.

Sheila worked with the research and development team to welcome and support participants in the trial.

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Marion Riordan is among the volunteers.

She said: “I think everyone felt a bit helpless in the beginning of the pandemic. I wanted to help but I didn’t know what to do.

“I’m just a little cog in a big wheel but it’s meant that the staff have more time. It’s been nice to be involved in it.”

She added: “It was nice to chat with people when they came in and it’s been great to have some kind of routine, especially during lockdown.”

The study, formed as part of an alliance between North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and two other health trusts, is the largest ever double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in the UK.

Sheila Atkinson is another to have volunteered.

Kerry Colling, the research lead on the trial, said: “The support from the volunteers’ service for the Novavax study has been invaluable.

“The volunteers working within the unit have been able to keep the flow of the clinics running smoothly and have provided a calm environment while participants are waiting in the booking-in room.”

Many volunteers have also opted to help out in the trust’s Covd-19 vaccination centre, including retired trust staff who stepped up to become volunteer vaccinators.

Marion Riordan retired from the Trust in 2018 from her role as an advanced practitioner in ultrasound.

She said: “When the vaccination programme kicked in I realised I had the skill and the time to be involved. I wanted to give something back as I felt we had all lost so much in our lives.”

To find out more about volunteering, visit the Trust’s volunteer page at https://www.nth.nhs.uk/jobs/volunteer/

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