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The power of our people

11/05/20

Ben Osborn
Managing Director, Pfizer UK

 
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on everyone in the UK, separating us from our loved ones and taking thousands of lives. Yet, even while battling this devastating disease, the acts of so many individuals have shown us to be a more caring and generous nation than perhaps we even knew.

 

Nowhere is this more true than on the frontline of our National Health Service. From the doctors, pharmacists and nurses treating patients, to the cleaning and operational staff who keep our hospitals running, these heroic teams are working day and night to care for us all.

And, right now, I couldn’t be prouder of my Pfizer colleagues who have joined them in the fight.

As a pharmaceutical company, there are members of our team who are licensed medical professionals, many of whom want to use their skills to help on the frontline of this global emergency. Which is why we created a new Medical Volunteer Programme so that they can support their national health services at this challenging time.

In the UK, many of our trained healthcare professionals are now working in hospitals, community pharmacies and GP surgeries. In addition, colleagues have also been asked by NHSE to provide volunteers for the Nightingale Hospital in London as well as other NHS hospitals across the UK.

Meanwhile, non-medical colleagues in Walton Oaks, Sandwich, Cambridge and Hurley have taken temporary roles elsewhere the NHS, with others committing their time to help develop new services to combat the wider health challenges posed by COVID-19.

There are countless positive examples to draw upon, from Chris Bidad, who has been working with Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust in a non-medical capacity to implement an essential new IV injection service, to Hamish Graham, former surgeon and now Lead of our Digital Innovation Hub, who is supporting the frontline efforts of a hospital in London. Additionally, our non-medical team in Wales have worked tirelessly to establish a new medicines delivery service that will ease the burden on pharmacies and ensure vulnerable patients get vital prescriptions delivered to their doors.

 

I started my career as a clinical hospital pharmacist and that desire to support the NHS and patients remains within me. Although I'm no longer on the pharmacy register it became clear that the skills I have developed in my Pfizer role could be put to greater use by leading a new project to design and implement a safe, robust and effective emergency IV antibiotic reconstitution service. What really struck me was the tireless dedication I saw whilst working at the hospital, from the front line clinical staff, to the cleaners, the estates and facilities department and the executive teams. It was both humbling and rewarding to be able to offer my support in a time of need."

Chris Bidad, Senior Director, Health & Value Lead, IDM and Canada, Pfizer

“It’s been really amazing to go back to the NHS after 3 years out of service, there isn’t much in the universe that compares to being close to people when they are in their moment of need. I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity to make a difference through the volunteering programme, allowing my NHS colleagues to take some much needed time off to rest and be with their families.”

Hamish Graham, Healthcare Innovation Manager, Pfizer UK

I have elderly parents-in-law who have been massively supported in their community, a great relief for us. That’s why I decided to volunteer in my village, helping some of the elderly and more vulnerable residents with the things they can’t do themselves, like shopping or collecting prescriptions. I also email or ring them every now and then just to check in. For me, volunteering is the right thing to do."

Dagmar Albers, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Pfizer UK

I’m a volunteer with Glasgow Street Pastors but, due to the social distancing rules, we have been unable to have a presence on the streets of Glasgow. I felt helpless at not being able to offer some kind of support to those most in need during this challenging time. That’s why I signed up as a ‘kindness caller’ with Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland, providing regular telephone support to those currently living in isolation."

Anne Madill, Senior Hospital Sales Representative, Pfizer UK


    

And our medical colleagues are not alone in their valiant efforts to support our NHS. I have been inspired too by our non-medical colleagues who are finding other ways to help out. Already, more than 80 colleagues have committed to volunteering for five-days each to support NHS organisations, public health bodies, patient groups, charities and community projects.

Beyond these efforts, a further 50 colleagues will soon be taking part in a new initiative with Business in the Community (BITC)* and Age UK, which will equip older people with the technical skills they need to stay connected. Through a virtual buddying programme, they will be helping them get to grips with using computers, tablets and mobile phones.

Many of these organisations also need fast financial help to deliver vital and life changing support to vulnerable people and patients. And so we have created an emergency charitable donation programme for those looking for core funding as a result of the impact on their services due to COVID-19. This is especially focused on those charities at the forefront of patient care.

Of course, none of this detracts from the vital work that our scientists are currently undertaking developing new cures, treatments and, hopefully, a vaccine for coronavirus. But this is a battle that must be fought on many fronts, and it is inspiring to see so many of our UK colleagues generously giving their support. 

Even in the darkest days of this pandemic, there have been glimmers of light in the heart warming stories of those who have gone to great lengths to help the most vulnerable in our society. Few will not have been moved by the story of 100-year old Captain Tom Moore, whose fundraising walk has raised tens of millions for the NHS.

As we look back on this period, there will be much for these individuals to feel proud of in the way they put others before themselves. I hope my Pfizer colleagues will similarly take pride in their actions; I could not be more grateful for their determination and commitment to help those in greatest need.

 

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Find out more about Pfizer's global efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

*ClickSilver Connections is a programme supported by and developed with Capital One (Europe) PLC, and facilitated by Business in the Community (BITC). It seeks to develop the confidence and IT skills of vulnerable and/or older people with the support of a volunteer mentor.

 

PP-PFE-GBR-2550 / April 2020