The COVID-19 crisis put insurmountable pressure on the NHS, and everyday health services have never been more challenged than during this past year. Across the country, healthcare workers have worked tirelessly, putting their lives on the line throughout the pandemic.
Join us on 10 June at 18.30 (UK time) for the fourth event in our online Alumni Lecture Series, COVID – Stories from the Frontline, as we hear from colleagues and alumni who have been working on the frontline throughout the pandemic.
The panel will include Reading graduates Gurinder Singh, Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice, University of Reading; Dr James Cutlan, Medical Doctor, Royal Glamorgan Hospital; and Sadek Alam, Physician Associate in Surgical Liaison, Royal Berkshire Hospital, and will be chaired by University of Reading Deputy-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Parveen Yaqoob.
The panel will share insights into the challenges they have faced, the sacrifices they have made, and the impact the pandemic has had on their sector as well as on their own lives. They will also share some of the heart-warming stories recognising the incredible efforts the healthcare workforce have made towards the fight against COVID-19.
CONNECTED spoke to Gurinder, James and Sadek ahead of this event to find out more about their experiences of working on the frontline during the pandemic.
Breaking the chains of COVID-19
Gurinder has played a huge role in helping to break the chains of transmission of the virus. He worked on the NHS Test and Trace system for six months from when it launched in May 2020; he has been heavily involved in the University of Reading’s dedicated contact tracing system run by the Case Management Team (CMT) since October 2020; and he has been advising his local community through his work at a GP surgery and in a community pharmacy.
Gurinder tells CONNECTED that, despite the challenges, he leapt at the chance to do his bit to stop the spread of the virus.
He said: “I was inspired to join the NHS Test and Trace because whilst working on the frontline in community pharmacies during the first lockdown, I saw how detrimental this virus was and how many people it was affecting.
“When the call came to help keep our University community safe, it was impossible to say no.”
Read more about Gurinder’s efforts to keep staff and students safe on campus.
Stepping up for the NHS
James studied economics at Reading, before going to medical school where he was in his final placement when the COVID-19 outbreak cut his studies short. James then seized the opportunity to start working early for the NHS and join the fight against the pandemic.
He said: “I opted to begin work early in a brand new role that was created because of the pandemic, called ‘Foundation Interim Year 1’. I started this role in May 2020 because I personally felt a sense of national duty to use the skills I’ve built up during my five years studying medicine, to help out as much as I could on the frontline.
“Having the opportunity to care for people at their most vulnerable is a difficult but rewarding responsibility which I’m extremely grateful to deliver. Everyone has been so supportive during the COVID-19 pandemic – it makes me feel proud to be a part of the NHS.”
Read more about James’ inspirational story of stepping up to help the NHS in its hour of need.
Sadek studied on Reading’s Physician Associate programme in 2016, and following his graduation began working at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, but since the start of the pandemic Sadek has seen his working life change dramatically.
He explained: “I was seconded to other medical wards, putting me in a new working environment and with different teams in the hospital. What really humbles me is the amazing dedication and commitment of all my colleagues; from our senior management team organising the overall plan, to the consultants putting in extra hours and making difficult decisions, to the junior doctors, nursing staff, cleaners, physios, porters, lab team and many more.
“The whole hospital really pulled together and now I see the Trust as a family rather than a place to work.”
Read more about Sadek’s experience of working on the frontline during the pandemic.
Register your place
Attendance is free, but booking is essential: register your place at the Alumni Lecture on 10 June.