High flying Sian splits her time between helping patients for South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust as a NHS 111 Health Advisor and helping passengers as a Cabin Crew Member for Virgin Atlantic.
I had been with Virgin Atlantic for eight years, flying across the airline’s network to the United States, the Caribbean, South Africa and Pakistan. But when the Covid-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, an increasing amount of the flights I was scheduled to work on were cancelled until all international passenger flights pretty much stopped and I found myself on furlough.
I’m not the sort of person to just sit around all day. I wanted to do something and knew that the NHS was under a lot of pressure with the Covid pandemic. So, when I saw an advert for people to work for SCAS and its NHS 111 service I applied for the Health Advisor role.
I started in April 2020 just after the first lockdown was announced. I used to travel to Bicester on the M40 and in those first few months there was virtually no traffic. Initially, I was one of the team taking just Covid-related calls. The NHS 111 service was under enormous pressure having to cope with a massive increase in calls from people worried about or with Covid symptoms, as well as all the other patients calling for urgent medical help or advice.
“It’s a very rewarding role, being able to help people over the phone and provide them with some reassurance or advice.”
I worked full-time for NHS 111 from April to October 2020. There had been two rounds of redundancies at Virgin Atlantic during that period and I thought it was only a matter of time before I suffered the same fate. However, in October 2020 the airline called me back to the flight roster again.
Whilst I love working for Virgin Atlantic, I felt I had unfinished business with NHS 111 and I was delighted to be offered a Bank Contract to continue working with SCAS around my flight schedule. I am now able to do 40 hours a month for SCAS and NHS 111, and complete four flights a month for Virgin Atlantic. Because the flights are all long haul, there is usually a 24-48 hour stopover in country before we are then scheduled to work on a return flight.
It’s a really nice environment at SCAS. I like the people I work with and feel very supported by the 111 team leaders and managers. It’s a very rewarding role, being able to help people over the phone and provide them with some reassurance or advice.
If you had said to me before April 2020 that I would be the person that someone on the phone relied on to get the right health information and advice, then I wouldn’t have believed you. But the training and support has been excellent and I’ve discovered I do have it in me after all.
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