Kate Phillips and Krisztina Urban.JPGOver 150 nurses from across Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have graduated from the Critical Care Academy – an in-house training programme to enhance their skills and prepare them to support the intensive care teams.

The academy was set up during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic to help registered nurses gain some of the extra skills and experiences needed to care for the most critically ill patients, and support the intensive care units in the event of an increased number of acutely unwell patients coming into hospital.

A range of nurses from across the trust have taken part, including newly qualified nurses, specialist nurses and those who have worked on wards and departments for over 10 years.

The two week course consists of classroom and simulation training, before completing a number of shadow shifts on the trust’s two intensive care units in Basingstoke and Winchester, where they work alongside an experienced member of the team.

Vicky Taylor, critical care matron, said: “Working in critical care for the first time can be a daunting experience. The academy provides our nurses with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with a new clinical environment so if they are asked to support critical care in the event of an increase in the number of patients, they have the confidence to do so - which also means our patients receive the best possible care.

“It is also a fantastic development opportunity, and means our nurses have enhanced skills they can take back to their wards.”

The academy is just one of the ways that Hampshire Hospitals is getting ready for a possible increase in the number of people with COVID-19 who need hospital care, combined with preparing for winter.

staff nurse Krisztina Urban.JPGJulie Dawes, chief nurse at Hampshire Hospitals, said: “We have learnt a lot over the last few months, and our focus is now on being as prepared as possible for whatever may come our way and continuing to provide the best possible care to our patients either with or without COVID-19.

“Every member of our team has gone above and beyond and we know that we have an exceptional team who are ready to tackle any challenge head on as we look towards a busy winter period.

“As ever, we are here for those who need us. Our hospitals remain safe, and anyone who needs urgent or emergency care, or has an existing appointment with us, should continue to visit our hospitals.”

The communities in Hampshire are being asked to do their bit to support their local hospitals by continuing to follow national guidance to keep each other safe through regularly washing their hands, wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance from others.