Local businesses help put up NHS staff

MORE than 100 Isle of Wight businesses have offered their support to the NHS over the past weeks, providing accommodation for staff as they have to isolate away from their families.

Offers to put up keyworkers who are not willing to put their families at risk. have come from 104 local hotels, bed and breakfasts and guest houses, as well as holiday chalets and self-catering accommodation.

Paulo Bispo, a senior biomedical scientist working at the pathology laboratory at St. Mary’s has been staying in a different place to his wife, who is 34 weeks pregnant, and two sons, for over a month now to avoid exposing them to any risk.

He said: “The trust’s accommodation team have been brilliant since my first approach, when I asked for their support. In less than 48 hours I was able to move to a lovely cottage in the Garlic Farm.

“It is definitely not easy being away from my family but the amazing support I’ve been receiving, not only from the trust, but also from the Garlic Farm owners, who have been so kind, offering meals and other goodies., They have been fantastic.

“This definitely has eased not only the concern of exposing my family to the virus, but also assured my family that I’m not alone in this fight. I can only say a massive thank you to IW NHS Trust and to the Garlic Farm for all the support.”

Suzanne Rostron, executive director of quality governance at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said: “So far we have managed to secure accommodation for 82 members of staff and are taking requests daily.

“We have some staff in accommodation for up to a week or just a couple of nights to support on-call shifts and commuting across the water.

“We also have some in longer term accommodation to support isolation for 12 weeks from members of their family who are considered vulnerable.

“The generosity has been heart-warming — buying bread and milk for their arrival, cooking meals for those on night shifts, allowing one lady to bring her dog as she needed the emotional support, just to name a few.

“We have been bowled over by the kindness shown to our staff. It has been a truly wonderful response and demonstrates what a fantastic community we have here on the Island.

“We are incredibly grateful to everyone who is helping to accommodate them and give them one less thing to think about, especially those who are apart from their family. Thank you to everyone who is helping and supporting our NHS staff in this way.”

Some members of staff need to isolate from their families as a way of not passing on the virus to others who may be vulnerable.

Tracy Cloke is a nurse at St Mary’s and needed accommodation because her father lives with her, who falls into the high risk group.

Tracy said: “I am extremely grateful to be given accommodation which has enabled me to be able to focus on my work without the added worry of exposing my father to the virus.

“I’m looking forward to being able to return home when this current crisis is over.”

The Wheatsheaf, Charter House and Hewitt’s Hotel in Newport have all helped to accommodate staff as well as The Caledon in Cowes, Mimosa Lodge in Cowes and Victoria Lodge in Shanklin, who took six members of staff in at the very beginning of the pandemic.

Upper Chine Holiday Homes have provided the Isle of Wight NHS Trust with the use of four of their houses at no cost to the staff and Wight Coast Holidays have contacted individual home owners with some offering the use of their holiday homes for NHS staff.