My experience working at the COVID-19 Assessment Centre

Posted on: 16 July 2020 by Maya Carswell, 2nd Year Biological and Medical Science Student at the University of Liverpool in Student experiences

This was as an attempt to try and 'do my bit' for the NHS and take relief from the staff working hard around the hospitals.


Since leaving university in March, I got in contact with my manager at the job I usually hold in university holidays as Bank Staff at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital Pathology Labs, where I work as a Laboratory Assistant. This was as an attempt to try and 'do my bit' for the NHS and take relief from the staff working hard around the hospitals. I worked here for about a week when they told me that a number of staff had been redeployed from around the hospital to the department and that my help was no longer needed. However, a job had come up at a newly created Covid Assessment Centre within Shrewsbury, where they were in need on an administrator. The site works by seeing patients who have suspected or confirmed covid and are in need of a medical assessment, either through our drive through facilities or face to face rooms. I took on the job with a full time contract and it has been a rewarding, yet full-on experience.

A typical day for me is arriving on site at 8:45 and registering my arrival by getting my temperature checked. Following this, I will log onto our system and see how many patients we have booked in and take a look at their notes before letting the doctors know what to expect. I'll then look at the previous day's data and update our spreadsheets with patient information, and then update our statistics within my own 'mini project' which has led me to discover some interesting results that may be used to help the doctors improve our site or set up more sites around the country. If I get time I will check to see if our team of volunteers have contacted us, and sort any queries with them. I also answer our phone to other clinicians and medical practices to help them book patients in. A few hours in I will swap with my colleague to work on the gate, where I register the arrival of patients and give them instructions and face masks so they are prepared to see the doctors, as well as deal with any members of the public who wish to gain access to the site or want to know what we are doing. As we see patients with appointment only we occasionally have people demanding tests, so it is useful that there is also site security who can deal with them. Early in the afternoon I will move back into the office and help switch over our volunteers and prepare new ones for the afternoon, by signing them in, giving them jackets and radios and then instructing them on what to do. I then continue with phone calls, communicating with doctors and patient data for the afternoon until I finish at 6pm.

Although my degree, Biological and Medical Science, is quite full on, luckily I have been able to manage doing my lectures either after work or at the weekend. In fact, it is quite useful to work here as I have all the experts on hand to ask questions about my lectures to! 

The experience I have had working here is invaluable. I am communicating with a huge range of people- Doctors, Practice Managers and Pharmacists on both a professional and informal basis, as well as very unwell patients who may struggle to understand or communicate back. I have developed my team leadership skills- as the only member of staff on site full time it comes down to me to relay any changes from the previous day's teams. This has massively improved my confidence. It's also tested my statistical analysis skills- I completed my Stats module last semester and since then haven't had much practice, but it has been interesting to refresh these and see them applied in a real world situation. In fact, one of the highlights of my experience so far is sitting with two doctors and discussing my results, with them asking me questions about the statistics and reasoning behind my analysis and me being capable of answering them. Finally, it has shaped my career choices through having discussions with professionals about my degree and scientific interests!

Update from Maya July 2020 via LinkedIn: I'm very happy to say that the Coronavirus assessment centre will be closing at the end of this week, as thankfully the number of cases has dropped significantly. Unfortunately that means I will be out of a job, but luckily a manager has got in contact and I'll be doing temporary admin work at a local GP until I return to university!

Keywords: Case studies.