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My story – Beth Abbiss

Beth is a Speech and Language Therapist currently working for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation trust.

The unique challenges that COVID-19 presents means many of our registrants are likely working, or have been asked to work, in new roles, which might be outside of their traditional scope of practice. You can read more about how to apply our standards at this time, and in particular what you need to know about scope of practice.

Beth shares her story. 

I am a registered speech and language therapist and have worked in this role for five years. When the COVID-19 pandemic initially began, I was supporting families and young people remotely. This involved offering support over the telephone, email and also using video/audio clips.


However, approximately four weeks ago the team received a request for volunteers to support in the oxygen running team at University Hospital of North Tees. I was keen to support in any way possible during the pandemic, so in the knowledge that my wonderful speech and language therapy colleagues would continue to support the families that I work with, I replied to the email offering my support.

Approximately four weeks ago the team received a request for volunteers to support in the oxygen running team

In summary, the role as an oxygen runner involves gathering information about the oxygen usage of the wards at regular intervals. This is then entered into a database to monitor oxygen management within the hospital.  As many of the patients with confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus require oxygen therapy, it is vital to ensure that the oxygen levels in the hospital are monitored.

I have worked in this role now for approximately one month and I have been based on a COVID ward in order to ensure there is a member of staff available to provide regular updates on the oxygen levels being used at any time.

I have also become involved with other tasks such as monitoring PPE levels for the wards and completing inventories of frequently used medical equipment. Additionally I have been supporting the hospital’s innovative virtual visiting methods. This is essentially using a secure video call technology that gives patients the opportunity to speak to loved ones whilst in hospital. 

There have of course been challenges. Seeing first-hand the patients struggling with this awful disease has been very difficult. The most striking part for me has been knowing that these patients are not able to have physical visits from family members at these times, and although we know this is essential for the safety of the patients and their families, it is still very tough.

However, being able to hand over an electronic device to a patient to enable her to see her family for the first time since she was admitted to hospital was immensely powerful. The advances in technology used not only to care for the patients medically, but also to allow for those vital moments communicating with family and friends are amazing.  I am returning to my role within the children’s speech and language therapy team shortly, and I am curious as to how the use of technology will influence our practice during and following this time.

Colleagues have been caring, compassionate, brave and always put the patients at the heart of what they do 

It has been such a challenging but humbling experience to see first-hand the dedication of all of the staff on the wards and my colleagues in the oxygen running team (many of us from a range of HCPC registered professional backgrounds, including speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, radiography and podiatry). All of my colleagues have been caring, compassionate, brave and always put the patients at the heart of what they do. 

In your words
Speech and language therapists
Page updated on: 12/05/2020