By Press Office 20 April 2020

Most of us might be working and studying from home, but things are still full steam ahead at Queen Margaret University (QMU), with staff and students from all corners of the university contributing to the national and local COVID-19 (coronavirus) efforts.

Our School of Health Sciences has been working closely with the NHS to coordinate getting our healthcare equipment to where it’s needed most. You might’ve seen on social media that our Radiography team’s portable x-ray machine recently went off to a Glasgow field hospital, while the beds from our Clinical Simulation Suite have temporarily moved home and are now with NHS Borders.

Plus, we’re working on plans to offer some of our campus accommodation to key frontline workers.

Our healthcare students have responded to calls from the Scottish Government for them to join Health Care Professions Councils (HCPC) emergency registers. This call arose given unprecedented pressure in the NHS and social care settings. As a result, we now have Nursing, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Therapeutic Radiography, Diagnostic Radiography, Speech & Language Therapy, Dietetics and Podiatry students working in NHS and social care settings right now.

One of their number is Physiotherapy student Sophie McAuliffe. She said: “there is going to be a greater role for physiotherapists in the coming weeks and months because people who become unwell with COVID-19 (coronavirus) will not only need us while they are sick but afterward too as they begin rehabilitation.

Recovering from coronavirus could leave patients extremely deconditioned and fatigued in some cases.

“The kind of work physios will be doing on the frontline includes respiratory interventions such as oxygenation, ventilation, breathing techniques and prone positioning.”

“Starting work in this field in the midst of a global pandemic is going to be a challenge, but it’s one I think QMU has equipped us for. QMU has put the support structures in place and our programme leaders have said they’ll keep in touch with us for the first few weeks we’re out working to make sure we’re doing ok during the transition from student to qualified physio,” Sophie added.

While the health sciences are a substantial part of QMU’s course portfolio, students and staff are making a real and impactful difference in a variety of ways.

Stan Blackley, MSc Gastronomy Programme Leader at QMU, said as the scale and impact of coronavirus unfolds many of Scotland's communities are encountering issues around food security, supply, availability and affordability. 

“One of our current students, Lewis McLachlan, has established the ‘Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts’ project in Edinburgh, which employs out-of-work chefs in empty kitchens to collect surplus food from closed restaurants and wholesalers and transform it into meal packs which are then distributed to some of Edinburgh’s most at-risk communities and citizens. Thousands of people are currently benefiting daily from the work of this project, and this is just one example of how QMU’s MSc Gastronomy students and alumni have stepped up to help people during this crisis.”

“Another involves our alumnus, David McGuire, who has turned his 1051 GWR restaurant in Glasgow into a hub providing free meals to NHS and frontline workers at the nearby Gartnavel Hospital and Drumchapel Food Bank, as well as supplying food to local churches and day centres, and hundreds of elderly and self-isolating people and families.”

“QMU’s gastronomes are making a real difference on the ground.” Mr Blackley said.

Professor Fiona Coutts, Dean of Health Sciences at Queen Margaret University, put it perfectly in a video message on Friday 17 April when she said to students working on the frontlines in all different capacities that while their role during the pandemic will be tiring and at times difficult, they are fulfilling the roles that they have worked hard for, studied for and are prepared for.

“Thank you for all you are doing to care, protect and treat people – and in many ways helping to save lives,” Professor Coutts said.

Notes to Editor

For further media enquiries, please contact Amy McGregor-Dainton (Interim Media Relations and Content Officer) at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh on amcgregor-dainton@qmu.ac.uk

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