How our Procurement team is supporting the Trust during the COVID-19 outbreak

Published: 06 May 2020

Our Procurement department may be working ‘behind the scenes’, like many of our vital corporate groups at the Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, but we are aware of their importance in keeping our colleagues informed, safe and running smoothly.

We recently spoke with Mark Turner and Anne Gorman, Procurement team members, to learn more about how their team has adapted to home working. We also discussed how they are dealing with the challenge that is ensuring adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is delivered to our colleagues on the front line. A task that is now more vital than ever.


How are you and your team handling the COVID crisis?

We are now working closer than we have ever done before and we are managing to maintain the same standard of service we would have done while working in the office. We did have some initial teething problems adjusting to working from home, but the IT team have worked wonders getting our equipment sorted.

We have adapted very well to new ways of working, including communicating electronically and via teleconferencing, holding daily team calls on Skype and keeping in touch regularly throughout the course of each day.

It has been a very hectic period for us, but we have been 100 per cent focused on the adequate supply of PPE. It is our highest priority to ensure our staff have the vital supplies they need – and enough of them, at the right time.


What has helped you with the demanding nature of your job?

To avoid duplication of effort within the team, we decided early on that we would all take on responsibility for specific tasks and stick to them. That has helped us get through the high volumes of work involved.


“I am grateful to be working with a small but perfectly formed team – I couldn’t ask for better colleagues!”


How has the outbreak affected your usual day to day work?

Working remotely and independently was a huge change for us, and one we had to adapt to quickly. We, like many others, are at home with family and pets, so we have found our working hours have had to become more flexible.

I [Anne], for example, like to start earlier in the day so I can take a longer lunch break to be available to support home schooling and endless food breaks! I’m happy to be busy during this time, but must admit it has been quite difficult to balance work and home. Within the team, we are very supportive of one another, when one of us has needed that extra time to adjust, the rest of us have not only supported this but encouraged it.

As a team, we have all increased our hours of work to support the increased demand, but this has been manageable thanks to the resilience of the team and we are proud to be making a difference and keeping on top of service needs.

What have you learned so far from this experience?

In many ways, whilst we have not seen each other for some time, this experience has brought us closer together as a team. We have found a new appreciation for the importance of good communication and clarity of who is doing what and when.

We have learned that we can work from home effectively and maintain our high standards of practice, but we do miss the structure of going into work. The current regime requires more self-discipline to concentrate and find that balance between home and work. However, we are reassured that if we had to continue working from home, we can make it work, and it is much more bearable than we feared in the beginning.


“I’m personally grateful for how we are working with teams across the Trust. Despite all the challenges, we are seeing the very best in so many of our colleagues and suppliers.

I have always been proud of working for the NHS, but now I feel even greater respect for all the back office functions that go about their work and keep all the cogs turning.”


We’ve also realised we need a good sense of humour to get through the more demanding days…but overall, we are so very proud of the commitment and effort the team has displayed to support the vital work our Trust colleagues are undertaking. We now know that, even during the busiest moments, we work fantastically well as a team.


What helps you along the way?

For me [Mark], clarity of communication and an understanding of the ever-changing challenges we have faced in the supply chain has been extremely helpful. It helps us to ensure the right products are available to our clinical colleagues, helping to keep them safe at work. This is is a real motivating factor behind our daily work.  

On a personal level, getting out for a walk each day helps me [Anne]; I have discovered some beautiful new walking tracks near my home. As much as I would like to return to normality, there have been many positives at this time. I have enjoyed some good family meals and chats and we have discovered a whole new excitement using ‘Zoom’ and ‘Houseparty’ to stay in touch with family and friends. Although life is very different to what it was, I am enjoying the simpler things and am very happy that we continue to stay well and active (even if rugby is off the agenda for the moment!)  

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