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University of Stirling staff volunteer for COVID-19 effort

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Eleven clinically-trained staff from the University of Stirling have volunteered to return to frontline healthcare duties to support the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Nine nurses and two paramedics from the University have offered to bolster the NHS and Scottish Ambulance Service over the coming weeks – and are set to join the 396 Stirling students who have volunteered to undertake paid work within hospitals to support the national effort.

The staff – all from the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport – have been supported in their decision by the University and, if called upon, they will return to clinical practice on secondment.

The nurses who have volunteered to return to practice include Dr Carol Bugge, Dr Dawn Cameron, Gwen Drysdale, Alison Hackett, Ela Hamer, Dr Louise Hoyle, Gwenne McIntosh and Fiona Smith, while the paramedics returning to duty are Christopher Aitchison and Dr David Fitzpatrick.

Jayne Donaldson
I am very proud of my dedicated and talented colleagues here at the University of Stirling who – along with almost 400 of our students – have volunteered to support the NHS and Scottish Ambulance Service at this difficult time.
Professor Jayne Donaldson Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport

Professor Jayne Donaldson, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a monumental challenge to healthcare systems across the world.

“I am very proud of my dedicated and talented colleagues here at the University of Stirling who – along with almost 400 of our students – have volunteered to support the NHS and Scottish Ambulance Service at this difficult time. Their response will make a real difference and play an important role in ensuring the health and wellbeing of patients.

“I know our entire University community will join me in thanking our staff and students for their phenomenal response – and wish them all the best as they join the frontline.”

chris aitchison

Paramedic Chris Aitchison is one of those returning to frontline duty.

Lecturer Dr Dawn Cameron, a trained nurse and midwife, said: “I want to offer my clinical skills and expertise at this time of crisis. I think we’re all concerned, given these uncertain times, but I feel I will gain comfort from being able to contribute.”

Stirling graduate Ela Hamer, who has recently returned to the University as a Lecturer in Mental Health, said: “It was a relief when I found out the University was offering the opportunity to return to practice – and I am delighted that I am able to continue to support the NHS, whilst also providing support for students out in practice during these difficult circumstances.”

Paramedic Christopher Aitchison joined the University just a few weeks ago, to lecture on Stirling’s new BSc Paramedic Science. He said: “I think my skills and expertise could be useful to colleagues at this time – and I’m grateful to the University for allowing this to happen. I have indicated that I could offer clinical support as a paramedic to my Scottish Ambulance Service colleagues and to the people of my community. Although a small contribution, I hope it helps.”

Gwen Drysdale

Gwen Drysdale has volunteered to return to clinical practice.

Hoping to return to NHS Fife to provide support at this challenging time, Gwen Drysdale, a Lecturer, said: “I have chosen to return to practice because you can’t take the nurse out of the person – it is a privilege to provide care to people when they need it, and to help your fellow nurses.

“I would like to put my skills to use and feel ready to support the NHS.”

Professor Angela Wallace, Director of Nursing, NHS Forth Valley, said: “We really appreciate the support of local university staff and it's great to see so many individuals volunteering to return to the frontline to work alongside their NHS colleagues at this challenging time.”

Politicians at the Scottish Parliament have praised the response of University staff and students to the crisis. In a motion tabled at Holyrood, Keith Brown MSP asked Parliament to recognise the Stirling nurses’ “commitment to serving their communities and their dedication to tackle the biggest challenge that people have faced in their lifetimes”. He added that they were an “inspiring example of the dedication and public service shown by NHS workers across Scotland” and would “make a significant contribution to nationwide efforts with NHS colleagues”.

Bruce Crawford MSP echoed those words in a second motion – expressing gratitude to all of those on the frontline across NHS Forth Valley, including those volunteers from the University – and Dean Lockhart MSP in a third.

COVID-19 support

Staff and students joining the NHS frontline is just one area in which the University is lending its support to the COVID-19 response. Last week, it was announced that the University will lead 10 new COVID-19 research projects – totalling almost £500,000 – funded by the Scottish Government. The projects – led by scientists from the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport and the Faculty of Social Sciences – will consider the impact of the virus on vulnerable children and young people across Scotland; carers and support workers; people with an alcohol or drugs dependency; those experiencing homelessness; older adults; and licensed premises.

In recent weeks, the University has loaned beds to Scotland’s new temporary hospital facilitydonated 3D printers to aid the production of personal protective equipment; its experts have been delivering potentially life-saving advice to social workers tackling the pandemic; students have been offering educational support to school pupils and parents in the absence of classes; and Stirling Sports Union clubs have raised hundreds of pounds for the United Nations Foundation.

Hear from our staff

Find out more about our staff and what they feel about returning to the frontline to support the COVID-19 pandemic response.

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