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Procurement team of the year 'Go' all the way to award!

The team which ensured that frontline staff in our Health Board and beyond had essential PPE throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has won a prestigious award.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB’s procurement team has won the Go Awards Wales prize for ‘Team of the Year’ after working tirelessly, including during evenings and at weekends, to ensure patient and staff safety.

The team was announced as the winner at an online event hosted by TV presenter Sian Lloyd. The Go Excellence in Public Procurement Awards Wales 2020/21 included finalists from across Wales’ public, private and third sector.

Head of Commercial Procurement Esther Price said: “We are delighted to have been recognised as Team of the Year for our response to Covid-19 in supporting Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB.

“It means so much to be recognised for the collective leadership, commitment, resilience and support we showed each other through the most challenging times of our careers, working so hard to ensure that we didn’t let our staff and patients down – while, at times, facing the highest Covid-19 numbers in Wales.

“This award shows a real cohesion and teamwork. We demonstrated that we understand each other and know where our strengths lie, pulling together while working at such a fast pace and amid worries about supply.”

Esther – who herself was very ill with Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic - admits there were ‘a few close moments’ in terms of ensuring adequate PPE supplies. “At one point, we were down to one day’s stock,” she said.

“We were working all hours and at weekends, but the critical thing was to ensure that patients and staff didn’t go without. It felt as if we were trying to fly a plane whilst putting the plane together. You find an inner strength and resilience because you don’t want to let people down.

“When I had to take 10 days off with Covid-19, my deputy, Ann Marie Pritchard, just stepped into my shoes and steered the team. Nicola King with Vince Espley took control of PPE supply. It was very humbling. People are at the centre of everything we do and together we achieve more.”

The 21-strong procurement team is part of NWSSP (NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership). Based at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil and largely working from home throughout the pandemic, the team not only sourced supplies but also coordinated donations of PPE and checked equipment for clinical safety. The team also supported the CTM capital team in equipping the capacity surges within the acute hospitals, community hospitals and Ysbyty’r Seren.

At the start of the pandemic, the team also forged an essential link with the Royal Mint, which developed and created medical visors for staff as well as supplying other essential PPE from its stores.

“This link was made through the Royal Glamorgan Hospital’s Covid-19 clinical lead Huw Davies,” said Esther. “It meant we were able to get visors for the whole of Wales, not just for CTM, until other supplies were sourced.”

Cwm Taf Morgannwg’s former Director of Operations, Alan Lawrie, who retired from the post in March, said: “The past 12 months have been very challenging for all who work in the NHS, whether at the front line delivering treatment and care or whether working tirelessly to support those frontline staff.

“The procurement team leapt into action without hesitation a year ago, becoming an integral part of our mission to deliver the best we could for our patients and going more than the extra mile to ensure that we had the supplies and equipment needed to support the care demanded.

“Equipping a field hospital and expanding our critical care capacity by 200% within weeks was not the day job, but our teams across CTM worked tirelessly with operational staff and clinicians to do just that, with patience, diligence and a very can-do attitude.

“This approach has continued all year and the assurance that we have the backup and resilience in our supplies has been reassuring at times of extreme pressure. Well done all, and many thanks!”

The procurement team has taken into its stride a new mindset of ‘working with Covid-19’ and is about to adapt a new PPE model to prepare for the coming months. By winning the Wales award, they now go through to the national awards, which take place in September.