14 April 2020

Our people step up for NHS duty

As the nation pulls together to fight Covid-19, our people up and down the country are doing what they can to support our NHS heroes. Matt Moores has swapped his day job as a Building Services Manager to become a full-time volunteer with the Covid-19 preparation team at Imperial College Hospital NHS Trust.

As a former Royal Engineer, Matt Moores is more used to being involved in making the news than watching it happen.

With the rapidly unfolding Covid-19 crisis dominating the headlines night after night, Matt’s keen sense of duty compelled him to approach our senior management to see if there was an opportunity to volunteer his services to help on the NHS frontline.

Within days Matt had swapped his day job as a Building Services Manager on our Battersea Phase 3a project for a role as part of the Covid-19 Transformation Team at Imperial College Hospital NHS Trust.

“I saw people were volunteering to help the NHS and I just had a sense of responsibility to put my hand up,” says Matt. “Because, let’s face it, if ex-Forces guys like me don’t, then who will?”

The Transformation Team’s job is to prepare the Trust for the predicted surge of Coronavirus patients in the capital, a major Covid-19 hotspot.

As part of the Trust’s Surge Plan, Matt is working with the team to understand the skill sets available within its 13,000-strong workforce and how many of its people would be able to take on patient-facing roles.

The aim is to rapidly upskill as many of the Trust’s staff as possible into a clinical role, with their vacant positions set to be filled by volunteers and, potentially, members of the armed forces.

Matt is also working with the Trust to set up Cross-Cutting teams: cohorts of specialists who can quickly be deployed to make the care and treatment process as efficient as possible.  

Despite the obvious heightened urgency given the current situation, Matt says the approach across the team is focused and professional.

“The atmosphere on the ground is pretty calm because it’s got to be. But it is intense work and very pressurised.”

With 15 years in the Royal Engineers, during which time he served in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Kenya, as well as completing four tours of Afghanistan, including one of technical support to the Specialist Boat Service, Matt is no stranger to pressure.

It’s experience he draws on both in his work with us and in the new role he now finds himself in 12 hours a day, five days a week.

“It’s the ability to take in a lot of information, some of which you don’t necessarily understand, and establish what the goals are and who to go to if you need support.

“The main thing is to take a deep breath and not panic. In the Forces we used to call it 'the Hamlet moment’ (after the famous TV cigar adverts)."

Knowing how the public sector works is also helpful: “In the commercial world it’s very much: if the price is right and we’ve got the time, we make a decision and just get on with it. Here there’s more red tape and I’m used to dealing with that because of my background.”

In practice, Matt’s day-to-day role involves a lot of legwork and number crunching in support of the Trust executive.

He spends a lot of time out in the organisation establishing which individuals across the many departments, from HR and ICT to Science and Technical and Therapy, have the skills to support the Covid-19 Surge Plan.

“It’s getting around, getting amongst it, unblocking blockers and trying to add value where I can,” he says.

“Sometimes that means asking the difficult questions in a meeting: being a critical friend and bringing that outside perspective on a strategy.”

Matt may have only been with the company for two years but his approach and attitude could not be more McAlpine: “It’s definitely a challenge,” he says. “But you know what? I’m giving it a good go.”