- Mike Calderbank
Sneak a peek - NHS Bags
Sneak a peek inside our Bare Necessities NHS Bags…
Q: NHS packs? How did this come about?
A; Covid-19 has a lot to answer for and indeed this threw up a new arena for us. It all came about during the first lockdown when we were approached by one of our biggest health trusts, the Manchester University Foundation Health Trust, asking if we could provide comfort packs for frontline staff. Sometimes seconded to Covid wards in emergency circumstances, these workers were housed in temporary accommodation, often without their personal hygiene products, to prevent them potentially taking the virus home to their families, particularly if a member of their family was vulnerable.
Q: What’s inside?
A: We sound like a broken record! Always the basics but here it was the minis which we press ganged into service…so toothpaste, shower gel, soap, conditioner and shampoo and body lotion, along with full size deodorant and a tooth brush. As most of the shops were shut and all non-essential travel was a no-no, we were able to draw on our reserves of minis to swing straight into action and the first bags were on their way within the week.
Q: Where did those bags come from?
A: It wasn’t a time for frills and furbelows so it was just a question of grabbling what was to hand and I think we raided all our kitchens for food bags and freezer bags and these were pressed straight into service.
Q; How many did you give out & who got them?
A: We’ve made up hundreds now and refined our act a bit! They go to MFT, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and East Cheshire NHS Trust. We now include things to soothe PPE chapped skin, hand sanitiser (of course), and the focus has shifted more towards poorer patients being admitted as Covid emergencies and who do not have any relatives or friends to supply essential toiletries. These packs all have to be wipe clean so we are back to the plastic zip lock bags for now.
Q: I’ve heard that all the PPE ruined the medical staff’s skin and lips?
A: Yes we heard it too, we have given lots of mini hand creams and lip salves to hospitals for frontline staff who have been labouring in full PPE for up to 12 hours a day, it was a small way of showing support and thanks from our supporters to the NHS.
Q: Do you see this continuing post Covid?
A: We are led by need and we are advised that there are significant numbers of patients admitted to hospitals annually who live in poverty and so cannot afford their own toiletries in hospital. The NHS provision is extremely basic and restricted so it is an area our board will consider post-pandemic.
From Gemma French, MFT NHS
“Thank you so much for the packs, so lovely of you. I think its little touches that make such a difference to people at this time.”