Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust has taken on students and graduates from computing courses at Birmingham City University to work as volunteers with the Trust in technical support roles during COVID-19.
The collaboration allows students as well as alumni who are keen to develop their technical skills to gain real-life experience whilst giving back to the NHS.
John Borland, ICT Operations Manager who is overseeing the programme at Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The ICT team at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Foundation Trust are focussed on ensuring that all our essential services are maintained and that we can enable staff to work from home where possible; this means some of our development projects and innovations have had to be put on hold while we do this.
“Having additional support from Birmingham City University is helping our team by spreading the load a little wider enabling some of the ‘nice to have’ requests to be fulfilled rather than just high priority requests. We hope that working together will expose some of our existing ICT staff to news ideas and technologies the students have pursued at university.”
Initially four students were recruited to work within the Trust’s Service Desk team answering telephone calls and fulfilling online requests.
The students work two or three days a week, observing social distancing in offices away from the main building.
23-year-old graduate Mohamed Jiaudeen from Handsworth, Birmingham and amongst the first cohort, said, “It has been an amazing experience for me to work in the NHS so far. The experience is providing me with an opportunity to explore into the Service Desk Analyst role which I have been considering to be the potential starting point for my career. Working alongside staff with more than 10 years of experience in this role has allowed me to gain valuable information and skills; my manager and colleagues, particularly Daniel Miley, have been very friendly and welcoming.”
Professor Hanifa Shah, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Computing, Engineering the Built Environment at Birmingham City University, welcomed the partnership with the NHS Trust, saying “Computing and infrastructure support is playing a vital role in enhancing the collection and handling of data to enable staff at the NHS frontline to deliver the best possible care. The management of the response to COVID-19 requires large scale, system wide collaboration, enabled though the use of technology to provide access to information, maintain connectivity, and support remote working – and we are delighted to partner with the Trust in this way.”
Dr Umar Daraz, Director of Innovation at Birmingham City University, said, “ Birmingham City University is incredibly proud to be working closely with Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. Our alliance is a natural one, built on our common goal of supporting communities by designing, developing and introducing cutting-edge innovative solutions that have the potential to transform how we deliver patients’ care.
“We already make a huge economic contribution to the Birmingham City Region through the training we do in the NHS, the ideas and innovations we create and commercialise, the students we educate on campus from the UK and abroad. It’s great to see our students and technical expertise support services across the Trust”
Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Birmingham City University aim to have 12 volunteers in place by July 2020.