Student Success

MSc Human Resources Management student Sian Brown has been named as an NHS non-clinical unsung hero by BBC East Midlands for her dedicated and compassionate work during the Covid-19 pandemic. Written by Emily Bishton.

At the beginning of 2020, Sian was working as a HR Adviser within the Employee Relations team at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust. When the pandemic hit, Sian’s role changed, and she moved into working on the Trust’s deployment hub: “We were moving people around for a variety of reasons, whether that was because their current service was shut down or because they were high risk individuals working in high-risk areas. We recruited lots of people to support on the wards and had hundreds of volunteers from the public come forward and say they were happy to help in any way possible.”

Sian’s responsibilities shifted again last May when she began supporting over 500 colleagues who were shielding or experiencing long-term sickness.

“Our aim is to support people back to work in a compassionate way and I think we’re doing that successfully as our sickness numbers have dropped off dramatically. We try to keep in touch with our shielding colleagues as much as possible - ensuring they don’t feel isolated, they have access to wellbeing support and that they received their Covid-19 vaccinations.

“We developed a Facebook group providing regular updates and a space where people can ask questions and share experiences. We also have a weekly Teams video meeting, which is a great opportunity for people to catch up and to keep everyone updated on the latest guidance and patient numbers. Shielding colleagues will be able to come back to work in April, so we’ll also be supporting them and making sure they feel comfortable to do that.”

Sian has been completing her masters qualification at Derby this year, alongside working full time in a challenging field, and although there’s a lot to manage, she is reaping the benefits: “My postgraduate studies really enabled me to be successful in my new roles. It got me used to hard work and the focus on leadership, developing people and employment law has been really helpful.”

After receiving numerous nominations from her colleagues, who described her as “a lifeline” and “an amazing strength to us all”, BBC East Midlands named Sian an 'NHS non-clinical unsung hero'.

Commenting on the accolade, Sian said: “It's absolutely overwhelming but incredible to be recognised in this way. From my perspective there are so many people in the Trust doing fantastic work. Our clinical colleagues on the wards are obviously doing an amazing job keeping our patients safe, but there’s so many non-clinical people in the background that really need to be shouted about.”

As the Covid-19 vaccine roll out continues, Sian is looking to the future: “It’s now a completely different world to last year and the Trust has managed really well in turning everything around so quickly. There’s investment in making sure we take all the improvements we’ve made forward and also lots of developments around HR within the NHS nationally. It's going to be really exciting to watch and be part of that over the next 12 months.”