LSBU radiographers step forward to support NHS fight against coronavirus

Rachel Picton, LSBU’s Head of Allied Health Sciences, is this month setting an example and stepping forward to assist her NHS colleagues in the national fight against COVID-19
07 April 2020

Rachel Picton, LSBU’s Head of Allied Health Sciences is this month setting an example by coming forward to assist her NHS colleagues in the national fight against COVID-19, volunteering three days a week at her local NHS hospital trust in Southend, Essex.

To do this, Rachel is using the volunteering shifts made available to LSBU staff who want to help the NHS.

Rachel says: “I am a diagnostic radiographer and will be working in accident and emergency on Thursday at my local hospital in Southend, taking chest rays of suspected COVID-19 patients.

“I’ve decided to volunteer because there will be a shortage of radiographers at this time. Radiography is a vital service and particularly essential to those patients critically affected by the coronavirus, mainly because the virus affects the lungs, causing a strain of pneumonia that makes breathing incredibly difficult.”

At LSBU, Rachel heads up a team of nine radiography teaching staff who are currently processing allied health students for entry to the nursing register, to allow them to join up and support their NHS colleagues on the frontline. These students include diagnostic radiographers, occupational therapists, operating department practitioners and physiotherapists.

Rachel Picton says: “My team is just in the process of preparing our third-year radiography students, who are eligible to enter the workforce on the new Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) temporary register. I am very proud of these students who will be joining the workforce early to help support the fight against the pandemic.”

“We have diagnostic radiographers who are supporting the frontline right now. They will be undertaking chest x-rays for both suspected and confirmed cases. They will also be carrying out chest CT scans. We also have therapeutic radiographers who are delivering essential cancer services.

“In addition, we have staff with specialist skills working at the Nightingale Hospital. One respiratory physiotherapist is teaching staff how to ventilate patients in the prone position, while other advanced practice staff are using their skills in community services."

Rachel is no stranger to rising to the occasion in adverse times. While still a student, in her twenties, she volunteered as an administrative information assistant, helping the local community and the families of the victims of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster in 1989.

“At the time, I just knew I had to something to help the victims of Hillsborough. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, there was a call-out on the news for volunteers to come and help. I put myself forward immediately and shortly afterwards, left my home in London to travel to Liverpool where I stayed and worked for five days, helping to answer people’s queries on the ground and supplying information to visitors at the site.

“Before that though, I worked in Cameroon in Africa in the eighties, helping to set up a Centre for Radiology there, which was a very rewarding experience.”

Rachel exhibits the typical LSBU resourcefulness and ‘can do' attitude so apparent in many of the University’s staff and students who are volunteering to help others at this unsettled and unprecedented time.