Anaesthesia Associates – working during COVID-19 Pandemic

Anaesthesia Associates have been working through the pandemic, with patients affected by COVID-19. Some have worked directly with patients suffering from the effects of COVID-19, with severe breathing difficulties, others have been supporting urgent/emergency services in and around operating theatres.

The whole of the NHS workforce, including non-patient facing roles, have played a valuable role in keeping the NHS working for the patients that need it.

The AAA board would like to thank AA’s and the wider NHS workforce for their hard work and dedication during these challenging times. We also wanted to highlight and recognise some of the contributions made by AAs throughout the UK, as a relatively new role in the healthcare workforce.

I was redeployed to ITU, to coordinate the rapid central venous access service which aimed to proactively manage venous and arterial access for COVID-19 patients.

I was also the ‘airway person’ for the proning team.

Lee Varney, University College Hospitals

As well as being part of the Covid intubation team and the ICU escalation rota, the AA team in Hywel Dda trained over 300 health board staff in cannulation and venepuncture skills. This developed into supporting staff set up the first drive thru antibody testing centre in Wales

Lisa Churchill, Hywel Dda UHB, West Wales
I set up a 6 minute walking test service as part of pre-op whilst CPEX is unavailable due to COVID contamination risks.
Emma Pelech, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals
Having only just qualified we were thrown in at the deep end.
We kept two trauma theatres running daily, provided help and support to the vascular theatres as most of the patients are ASA 3-5.
We had 10 theatres running daily at Preston and often moved from theatre to theatre to improve efficiency and offer support to the consultants with the PPE requirements.
Dani Briggs & Lucy Pilkington, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals

We worked on the COVID intubation team with 24/7 cover, this involved going to ED and other areas in the hospital to intubate and transfer patients to ITU.

We were second anaesthetic provider so administered the induction medication and put in the arterial and central lines.

We were placed on the theatre on-call rota freeing up junior doctors to work on the ITU.

We also took part and were airway providers in patient transfers and taking patients to scan.

Howard Cox & Phil Cawkwell, University Hospitals Birmingham (HGS)

Prior to the peak of the outbreak, I trained about 200 people on how to safely prone a patient in ICU.

I then was redeployed and worked as “an ICU nurse” in the covid unit for 3 months, with no prior experience whatsoever. Being given your own patient to look after was incredibly daunting. It was a huge learning curve but with so much anaesthetic experience it proved so valuable to the team. So pleased I could have been such a help.

Beth Port, The Great Western Hospital

During the peak of the COVID outbreak the AA team supported services in a variety of ways:

PICC line service for COVID ICU.
Implemented emergency intubation boxes and trolleys for ICU.
Training for PPE.
SIM training for covid intubations.
Infection control liaison.
Helped with designation of covid patient pathways.
Continuing cancer services in our non-covid site.

Kyna Houston, University College London Hospitals

During the COVID-19 pandemic, AA’s at our trust were incorporated into teams working shifts with the anaesthetic and intensive care junior doctors.

Each team rotated through theatres and intensive care reducing the strain on individuals having to work in the same area each shift.  The teams were also available to provide rapid intubation support and resuscitation skills when needed.  Continuation of some rapid access surgery was also supported by these teams alongside the consultant anaesthetists.

Ella Davies, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

We trained staff from ITU, HDU, PACU and theatres how to safely use an anaesthetic machine for ventilation of COVID-19 patients. We created a ‘cheat sheet’ for the Anaesthetic machine (ventilator) for non-anaesthetic staff to refer to quickly if needed.

Roy Walker, Diana Princess of Wales Hospital

We supported the trauma service through the COVID pandemic, providing a 7 day service. We have improved the way trauma is run with improved efficiency.

We enabled and supported the distribution of trauma through other theatres. We are the first contact for problem solving and support for trauma services through the COVID pandemic.

Katie Williams, University College Hospitals

During covid, our course was suspended. I used this time to volunteer for the nightingale education team. It was a fantastic experience, I was teaching basic airway and breathing, PPE, proning, etc, to people who had volunteered to work in the nightingale hospital in London.

Beth Hajat (Trainee), University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire
Before starting my training as an AA, I was an ODP team leader. During the COVID surge, I  worked alongside the Clinical Lead for Critical Care. I was tasked in identifying and building ITU escalation areas.

I took the lead with logistics, identifying stock shortages and trouble shooting equipment problems. I completed returns to NHSi regarding ventilators, monitors, filters, central lines, Vascaths etc.

I trained ITU and redeployed nursing staff on the different types of ventilators in use at the Trust.

Paula Holland (trainee), Hereford County Hospital, Wye Valley Trust
Here in Belfast, we started on the intubation team in the main COVID-19 hospital but, were later asked to cover the role of the assistant service manager for Anaesthetics between us.

Within a week we had to set up staffing for the Nightingale hospital, develop new rotas, organise fit testing for new masks coming in and ensure training for all non-anaesthetic medical staff who were joining us.

We also had to sort out anaesthetic cover for our non-covid hospitals in the Trust, and the regional ICU, and deal with day-to-day management. It was certainly different to our normal roles!

Claire Hastings, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

University of Birmingham Anaesthesia Associate Course

Please consult the University of Birmingham directly to confirm details.

Our latest update is the current students examinations have been delayed by 6 months (as of 1/8/2020).

The next intake for new students was due October 2020 – this has now been postponed. The next intake for new AA students is expected to be January 2021. (subject to change)

AAA Annual Conference

The 2020 conference was postponed due to COVID.

We are preparing to hold the next conference in 2021, subject to developments with COVID. Please see our conference web page for details.

A recent AAA COVID 19 update can be found here ‘COVID-19 Update‘.