How dental nurses have been filling in

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Dental nurse Sharanpreet Bumbra

Over 140 dental nurses were redeployed across different areas of Guy’s and St Thomas’ as part of the Trust’s response to coronavirus.

Due to the pandemic, Guy’s and St Thomas’ dental department was forced to postpone all appointments except emergency dental work, leaving a surplus of eager dental nurses wanting to help wherever they were needed.

Sharanpreet Bumbra has been a dental nurse at the Trust for almost five years and volunteered to be redeployed to the renal department. Sharanpreet said: “Though I was a little bit nervous to begin with, I was excited to learn whilst helping to care for those in need.”

In late March, Sharanpreet began looking after renal patients with coronavirus. “The first six or seven weeks were so busy and very demanding, but I really loved it,” said Sharanpreet.

The 26-year-old underwent rigorous training and shadowing before taking on her own workload as a nursing assistant. She said: “When my shifts finished at 3.30pm, I wanted to stay longer. I was able to change to 12 hours shifts, even working some nights, as I just wanted to experience everything I could and help out as much as I could.”

Though working in a busy ward with very sick patients had its challenges, the 14 weeks Sharanpreet spent working as a renal nursing assistant is something she will never forget. She said: “I’m really proud of myself. I really gave my all. I’m now back in the dental department and more confident than I’ve ever been before.”

Dental nurses were redeployed to a number of other areas throughout the Trust, including intensive care, oncology, phlebotomy and the Cancer Centre at Guy’s. Dental nurses also helped to run the staff coronavirus swabbing and antibody testing services.

In response to the pandemic, several initiatives for staff were set up and run with the help of dental nurses. An emergency supplies store launched where staff could get free essential groceries, managed largely by dental nurses. Dental nurses were also trained as wellbeing advisors, who were on hand to be a listening ear for staff at the newly launched rest and recharge zones. These initiatives were funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.

According to Samantha Salaver, head of dental nursing, the redeployment of dental nurses has shown what her team are capable of. She said: “The feedback from around the Trust has been phenomenal.”

“More than three quarters of all dental nurses were redeployed to other areas and my inbox is full of emails praising the staff and the work they’ve done in the hospitals and out in the community. I’m so proud of the way my team have gone above and beyond to help wherever they were needed in such a challenging time.”

Samantha is keen to utilise the new skills the dental nurses have gained. She said: “We don’t want staff to forget all of the things they’ve learned now they’re back to their original roles and we’re currently speaking to those who have returned about how we can best support them.”

The efforts of the dental nursing team have also been recognised at the Trust’s Nursing and Midwifery Awards, with the whole team collectively winning the Dame Eileen Sills Award. The honour was given by Dame Eileen Sills, Chief Nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ to acknowledge the incredible contribution of the entire team during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last updated: March 2022

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