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'For the 3rd time in 10 weeks, our major incident plan was kicked into action'

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It’s the week after a terrible week, our 3rd major incident in London in 10 weeks. You wonder what will come next.

Janice Sigsworth

Janice Sigsworth

Janice Sigsworth

As with the earlier incidents, our major incident plan kicked into action like clock work. These incidents are not a few hours work but require huge focus, often over several days.

At Imperial College Healthcare, our clinicans and trauma teams are amazing. When we debrief, it is so clear that medicine and surgery have worked to support one another and the trauma pathways. The response when the major incident call goes out has only grown bigger with each incident. Many teams have taken the initiative to start whatsapp groups to help coordinate the response, ensuring the right staff are in the right place based on who is able to get into the hospital.

“The feeling in our hospitals is sombre”

In fact, the whole hospital galvanised itself to support the major incident responses. These dreadful events bring us all closer together.

Everyone is focused on delivering the best care possible, some juggle child care commitments, cancel holidays, cut short clinical study to care for those brought to our A&E.

The feeling in our hospitals is sombre, the emotional impact enormous. Our staff hear distressing stories and see the severe injuries, the grieving families, the not knowing, the fear. Staff hold patients and grieving families in their arms and emotions can run high. Our staff do a fantastic job day-in, day-out, and we must make sure we look after them as we look after our patients: with care and compassion.

“We all need time to reflect and grieve”

I have not been on the frontline of care but have supported the silver and gold command.

Even as a senior leader, I feel very affected by what has happened. We all need time to reflect and grieve. I feel it’s important to speak with nurses and the clinical teams to emphasise that it’s ok to cry and feel what you feel. We must not bottle it up but talk to one another and let it out.

We have put in place counsellors to support staff and help them make sense of their emotions. These difficult times may continue and we need to support each other to get through them.

Professor Janice Sigsworth is director of nursing at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Calm, composed and very humble leadership from an outstanding healthcare professional. Deep respect for Janice and all of her colleagues at Imperial College Healthcare Trust.

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