Patient Advice and Liaison Service | Celebrating BWC Spirit

Celebrating BWC Spirit

BWC Spirit Logo We are highlighting the amazing things our colleagues have done and achieved during the pandemic.

Our teams have bravely stood by the side of our patients, changed how they have worked to keep key and emergency services running and gone beyond the Trust to help colleagues in other parts of the NHS.

They have done so with an approach and spirit that is uniquely BWC and we want to celebrate that and what has been achieved.

From frontline clinical colleagues to our unseen and often unsung heroes in labs, offices and in our corridors - everyone has had a part to play and we’re sharing some of their stories over the next two weeks.

If you would like to thank individuals or teams either by sharing some kind words, pictures or a short video we would love to see them. You can submit your messages, pictures or videos by emailing

Patient Advice and Liaison Service

By Mark Hillier, Senior Patient Experience Manager, Patient Advice and Liaison Service  

PALS team What was your experience of the pandemic? 

The very sudden learning curve to try to understand what was happening, make sense of everything and then be able to clearly communicate things to patients and families. Challenging task to give the right amount of information without alarming people and without adding to things we couldn’t be sure about. Coping with a lot of changes in a short amount of time was overwhelming at times. 

We kept a team member on each site but other staff were forced to work from home or to learn other jobs to support the wider pandemic response, for example, FIT Testing or Switchboard. This lone working at PALS made it harder to ensure everyone felt supported and to offer the chance for debrief and communication updates. 

A lovely reprise was the kind gifts and donations for our BWC staff which the team helped distribute trust-wide. 

What was the hardest part? 

The complexities of messages and the ever-changing nature. In preventing visitors and partners from accessing the hospital sites it was so difficult knowing that people were scared and needed reassurance but this may not be possible from their closest family, to keep everyone safe. The process of giving messages to prevent people from coming into the hospital also needed to be matched with messages of reassurance about infection control and safety but this helped the clinical teams to get on with their jobs. 

How did you cope? 

We took time to regularly check in with each team member and ensure that support was available. We tried to meet practical needs for equipment to work from home which included laptops and phones. 

We enhanced safety measures when working on-site. We encouraged cleaning rotas, office rearrangement, Covid testing, vaccination and regular days on-site where possible to catch up and to learn about the ever-changing situation.  

We increased communication methods with regular virtual huddles and virtual team meetings. We also arranged Team Updates throughout the week and a conference call when people were working at home. We also explained to patients and families how to organise a virtual appointment or virtual interpreters. 

What did you learn? 

We learnt to work differently and flexibly. We found that it was possible to manage some tasks easily from home, whereas other tasks were better on-site. We managed to introduce technology to all team members and where necessary we even had volunteers and interpreters working from home.  

We learnt to manage a very complex situation in a way that patients and families could receive timely advice and feel supported through using technology to access us by smartphone, email and virtual platforms. 

We found ourselves communicating very difficult information and receiving high volumes of enquiries that we would have to manage and triage so that we could help and advise people even where they did not want to receive the information or use it. 

How do you think it changed the team? 

Resilience was very important and we realised that we needed to communicate regularly amongst ourselves so that we all knew the reasons behind decisions, who was making the decisions and how they would be enacted. 

The PALS team have taken an increasingly complex number of enquiries and concerns during the Coronavirus period and this continues. The difficult nature of service restoration and recovery involves a lot of rearranged appointments and operations that parents and families are challenging us to explain. We also try to explain that staff may take a little longer to respond because of the pressures of working differently and with extra infection control measures. 

PALS teams across England have reported a similar situation and a positive response has been the greater sharing of innovations, solutions and thoughts regarding the way forward. 

Beyond your team, who has inspired you during the pandemic? 

We are grateful to our volunteers, some of whom have continued to help us during most of the pandemic period on site.  

Our Interpreter Runners have been a great help to the Front-of-House team, particularly at the Women’s Hospital when families and partners were not able to access the hospital. 

We are grateful to every staff member who responds to a PALS request because we can only help our patients and families when we have the support of our staff. 

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