The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic triggered a global health crisis that prompted a cascade of challenges from early 2020 through to 2021, with its effects on the healthcare system still being faced to this day.
However, COVID-19 also presented an opportunity for local health boards to exercise their values and corresponding strengths in responding to crisis, with Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDdUHB) for example providing extra care capacity and safe ‘green zones’ for healthcare through the mobilisation of three temporary field hospital sites.
Collectively, the three sites (Ysbyty Enfys Caerfyrddin, Ysbyty Enfys Carreg Las and Ysbyty Enfys Selwyn Samuel) provided step-down care and treatment to 381 non-COVID and post-COVID patients, contributing to an extraordinary total of 5367 bed days saved.
Preliminary staff and patient feedback suggested that the field hospitals achieved great outcomes – creating a culture of camaraderie with effective multidisciplinary teamworking towards a shared vision that is often difficult to nature in acute settings. To explore this in greater depth and gain a better understanding of opportunities for transferability, HDdUHB commissioned HTC to conduct a thorough and objective evaluation of the field hospitals through quantitative and qualitative enquiry.
The team conducted extensive semi-structured interviews with 22 stakeholders who were integral to the operationalisation and functioning of the field hospital sites: with participants spanning Welsh Government, Clinical Engineering, Military Liaison Officers, Pharmacy Technicians, Consultant Physicians and GP Leads and Nurse Ward Managers, further to an array of Project and Service Delivery Managers.
Key findings generated from the evaluation outlined the importance of embracing flexibility within processes and procedures, breaking down hierarchical barriers, appropriately harnessing the unique skills of individuals and professional groups through a ‘team around the patient’ approach, and cultivating work environments that nurture growth, learning, relationships, and psychological wellbeing.
Opportunities for learning and transferability were fed back to the health board to instantiate positive change within the health board.
This project is part of the Accelerate programme which is part-funded by the European Regional Development fund, through Welsh Government.