UWTSD apprentices play crucial role in supporting health authority during Covid-19


Digital degree apprentices at University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) have played a crucial role in supporting the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Digital degree apprentices at University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) have played a crucial role in supporting the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Five apprentices at Hywel Dda University Health Board, who study an industry-approved programme at the University that relates directly to the skills requirements of their employer, have been able to put their learning into practice to help in the fight against Coronavirus.

Bridget Moseley, Head of UWTSD’s Apprenticeship Unit said: “We are so proud of their efforts and the hours and hours of work that they and all our degree apprentices have put in over the past four months. It is both humbling and exciting to watch their progress.”

The Degree Apprenticeship is a new type of award which combines the workplace learning of a traditional apprenticeship with a higher education qualification such as a BSc | BEng | BA | MA. 

Apprenticeships at UWTSD provide superb opportunities for individuals to gain high level skills and knowledge in their chosen career pathway.

Here are their stories: 

Richard Jones

Richard, a Computer Networks and Cyber Security Digital Degree Apprentice at UWTSD, is the ICT Deputy Desktop Operations Manager at Hywel Dda University Health Board.

During the COVID pandemic, Richard has been instrumental in supporting the Health Board remotely and has been heavily involved in the successful mobile device deployment with Intune and progressing this for the organisation.

Richard led on the work to procure, set up and roll out iPads to all wards across Hywel Dda University Health Board. This enabled patients to be able to maintain contact with their friends and family. During such uncertain times, this ability to maintain contact has been greatly appreciated by patients and staff, resulting in several donations from both local business and private donations of tablets to further support the roll out of equipment. This has included the use on iPads for the volunteer service to enable translation and support services to be provided to patients.

As well as providing mobile devices for patients to use, Richard has also been involved in the mobilisation of the workforce on a much wider scale, COVID has seen a necessary shift for staff to change the way in which they work and for how clinician’s provide care. This has meant the need for more mobility to allow staff to work remotely and on the move. There has been a large roll out of equipment within Hywel Dda to support this new way of remote working to continue to support the provision of care to patients across Hywel Dda.

Isobel Sutcliffe

Isobel, a Software Engineering Digital Degree Apprentice at UWTSD, is an Advanced Health Analyst at Hywel Dda University Health Board.

“At the beginning of March 2020, it was becoming quite evident that as an organisation the NHS was going to have to start looking at things very differently.

As an analyst, I was looking at all the statistical tools that were being developed and deployed, watching the number of cases that were being confirmed in countries across the world.

“By the middle of March we were beginning to see people being asked to work from home, where possible, especially if they had underlying conditions. Most of my meetings were being cancelled as more pressing needs were beginning to show. Knowing the stresses that were being seen in other areas, I took it upon myself to ask if there was anything, I could do to help in other sections of the Informatics directorate.

I was asked if could help out on the Informatics Service Desk. This was not an area I had worked in before, although I had 20+ years previously worked in Medical Records, and so was not unfamiliar with answering phones, but readily said yes.

After training, I sat at the desks for 7 weeks, answering calls, performing basic functions to allow the team to get on with other tasks, such as setting up new users, getting VPN tokens to enable employees could work from home, processing new phones and pushing out new functionality for the use of home working (ie Teams, Office 365). It was interesting to see what the other Informatics teams were doing and understanding how they worked together.

I have to admit answering the phone did not always seem like a lot and would have happily have done more, but knowing that I was able to help the team to get to where they needed to be. In addition, on occasion knowing that I did actually help someone on the other end who was struggling to get something working was such an amazing experience, always made me smile. I would happily do it again. It was an invaluable experience that I am grateful to have experienced.”

Digital degree apprentices at University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) have played a crucial role in supporting the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Adam Moore

Adam, a second year Digital Degree Apprentice at UWTSD, studying Applied Data Science, works as an Advanced Analyst within the Health Analytics team at Hywel Dda University Health Board.

Adam said: “The very first thing I'd like to say, is a huge thank you to both Hywel Dda UHB and UWTSD. My personal experience is that both have been incredibly supportive, alleviated anxiety early and managed risk appropriately, effectively and quickly. The decisive and reassuring actions taken pre-emptively counteracted growing concern and stress and have enabled me to be more effective in my role than I otherwise would have been. I'm immensely grateful to both organisations.

“Having initially supported the IT Service Desk function for just a few days in late March, I was assigned to support the development of key Covid-19 Workforce Information reports. Most notably by devising a method of amalgamating data captured and stored separately within two different systems in an accurate manner in order to enable daily sickness-absence reporting which further enhanced our capability to take appropriate actions based on accurate and reliable information, while also maximising automation to allow the work to be undertaken daily within a short time frame. Limitations in data terms mandated the use of creative logic in order to achieve what was a far more complex task than I’d initially anticipated, and after significant validation the final piece of work has been handed over to the Workforce Information team.

“While I was investing time in producing new information processes, some of my Health Analytics colleagues spent their days building simulation environments, epidemiological models and utilising machine learning methods in order to create a virtual environment that could be called upon by stakeholders to model/predict the outcomes/consequences of a number of hypothetical scenarios relating to COVID-19. Since working in this capacity again, I have been supporting the delivery and presentation of the outputs generated by the integrated simulation environment, working with both Power BI as a visualisation tool to be utilised by internal stakeholders and also excel to deliver a similar alternative to appropriate external stakeholders where compatibility is likely to be an issue. I’ve also been supporting the development of new probability profiles as new data becomes available in order to further tune and improve our simulation outputs.

“The work I undertake over the coming weeks and months is likely to focus around statistics and epidemiological modelling, hopefully making use of R-Programming skills that I will be developing as well as familiarising myself with geographical information systems to deploy better and more informative geographical visualisations to stakeholders. I will also be continuing to develop in Power BI as it/s our primary business intelligence and visualisation tool for deploying information internally.

“Over the last few weeks I’ve also been involved in raising money for the Hywel Dda UHB COVID-19 appeal, an internal charity that was created to support the welfare and wellbeing of Hywel Dda staff and volunteers at this difficult time. I’m particularly grateful to have the opportunity to safely raise money for Hywel Dda health charities as my bid to run three half marathons during 2020 in aid of the Glangwili Maternity and Children’s units was postponed due to the pandemic. My football club, Pendine AFC, are undertaking the equivalent to a journey across Europe (10,000 miles) during the month long period that the Euro 2020 tournament was scheduled to take place.

Geraint Jones

A Digital Degree apprentice at UWTSD studying Computer Networks and Cyber Security, Geraint is the Desktop Operations Manager at Hywel Dda University Health Board. As part of this role, Geraint has been instrumental in the rapid procurement and deployment of equipment across the Health Board to support staff and enable them to work digitally and remotely where necessary. This includes: 53 mobile carts, 220 Tablets, 400headsets, 300 webcams, 50 Welsh Clinical Portal Printers and in excess of 400 laptops.

Geraint was also heavily involved in setting up the 8 field hospitals across Hywel Dda, implementing equipment, supporting ward moves in reaction to COVID developments and reconfigurations of Hospital usage. 

Geraint and his team also ensured the successful set up of the COVID-19 command centre with equipment and contact centre application.

To enable Virtual Consultations between clinicians and patients Microsoft Chromium Edge has been deployed to all Windows 10 machines in support of Attend Anywhere by Geraint and his team. To support this PC’s, screens, cameras and headsets deployed to all outpatient consulting rooms to support virtual consultations with patients.

Peter Evans

Peter Evans, who is studying Computer Networks and Cyber Security at UWTSD, is an Infrastructure Technician based at Bronglais Hospital at Hywel Dda University Health Board.

As part of the covid-19 response, Hywel Dda ICT was tasked with preparing a number of testing centres and field hospitals across the 3 counties (Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire).

In Ceredigion 2 Testing Centres and 3 Field Hospitals had been chosen. The first priority was to setup the testing centres in Cardigan and Aberystwyth with ICT equipment to enable staff to access information as they would at an acute site.

In Cardigan an old Health premises was repurposed which unfortunately had no existing network or equipment. Initially a request was made to BT to install a new internet connection into the building, however under normal circumstances the full process can take circa 3 months.

In the interim, Peter and the ICT team came up with the plan to roll out 4G dongles purchased from EE, a laptop, VPN (Virtual Private Network), printer and a mobile phone. This would allow staff at the testing centre to securely access patient information and request the COVID19 tests. The site was operational in less than a week. 3 weeks later BT PSBA internet connection was installed negating the need for the 4G dongle.

A second testing centre in Aberystwyth was also setup and was up and running within 10 days with similar equipment as Cardigan. This site was also designated as the North Ceredigion GP Covid hub. Hywel Dda and Primary Care ICT liaised to installed equipment to allow GP’s to also use the site and access GP records.

Finally came the Field Hospitals. A Secondary school and 2 leisure centres were converted to field hospitals. A multi organisational teams consisting of County Council, Health, Private and military planned, converted and constructed what was required.

ICT conducted site surveys at all sites with the Clinical lead nurses to gather information on what was required.

At around the 4 week mark the field hospitals were ready to start accepting patients. A monumental effort to repurpose different types of buildings to become field hospitals. Each site had its own problems that needed out of the box thinking completely different to supporting a General Hospital. What would normally take months of planning and months of on- site installation was completed in a fraction of that time and without compromise. Staff would have the same level of support and have access to the same equipment and information as they would be accustomed to at any other Health board site.

Digital degree apprentices at University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) have played a crucial role in supporting the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Further Information

Rebecca Davies

Swyddog Gweithredol Cysylltiadau â’r Wasg a’r Cyfryngau

Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

Tel: 01792 483695

Mobile: 07384 467071

Email: Rebecca.Davies@uwtsd.ac.uk