8 July 2020

Jane Palmer became an Above & Beyond trustee last year after retiring from nursing in 2017.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when retired nursing staff were asked to return to work, Jane didn't think twice about putting herself forward.

Here she tells us what it was like to be back working at our Bristol hospitals.

I am a trustee of Above & Beyond and was a nurse at the Bristol Royal Infirmary for over 40 years before I retired in 2017. My last full time job was as Head of Nursing for Surgery and latterly as Head of Nursing for the Chief Nurse team. When this crisis began, I was one of the 200 retired hospital staff who returned to see if they could help in any way. I had a fantastic career at the BRI, and when I saw that they were asking nurses to return to work, I immediately put myself forward to help - it felt like the natural thing to do. There was no reason on earth why I wouldn’t go back.

I re-trained to care for patients in ICU and worked there for a short time, also spending some time on a recovery ward, refreshing my clinical skills. It was great to be back and meeting lots of colleagues I had worked with over the years.

I then changed role, leading a team to prepare the Spire to become a place for recovering COVID-19 patients. This would be a crucial space if ICU was to become full or overwhelmed- we are very fortunate that this has not happened. 

All the staff I met remained in high spirits, as hard working and committed as ever. Though in Bristol we have been fortunate to see fewer cases of COVID-19 than some other areas in the UK, it has still been a hugely challenging time for staff and patients in our hospitals as they prepared for the worst.

With your support, Above & Beyond has been able to respond quickly to this crisis, providing Bristol’s hospital staff with food, better rest areas and a wide range of wellbeing support. They are now looking to take this initiative further and fund a three year workplace wellbeing framework at UHBW, supporting the immediate and long term needs of NHS staff with a diverse range of light-touch and intensive psychological support. I know first-hand the importance of staff wellbeing in hospitals, and how bravely staff faced this pandemic. I’m very excited to see this transformative project develop.

Say thank you to NHS staff for their hard work during the COVID-19 crisis by making a donation to the Bristol City Centre Hospitals Appeal