Team of the Year: Non-private Sector 2021


Royal Derby Hospital Portering Team, ISS Facility Services UK

Sponsored by: PTSG

Team of the Year: Non-private Sector 2021

“The ISS Portering Team has exhibited exceptional resilience throughout the last 12 months. The impact of the Covid pandemic on their normal working roles has been significant. It has been a very pressurised and, at times, scary working environment; however, also one where the value of every member of the team has been revealed like never before.” – Sarah Matthews, Assistant General Manager, Derby Healthcare plc

Royal Derby Hospital provides care to around a million patients from the Derby area each year. The ISS Facility Services UK portering team is integral to movement on-site, performing duties that directly affect the hospital’s performance – from 78,000 patient-related moves in beds and wheelchairs a year, specimen delivery, to 2,000 tonnes of waste being moved annually for the health, safety and cleanliness of the hospital, or a deceased patient’s final journey.

The team consists of 153 porters who are part of a team of frontline staff, supervisors and managers who make up the ISS contract. Other ISS services are healthcare cleaning, hostess, patient and retail catering, switchboard, helpdesk, reception and receipt & distribution. ISS has delivered services since 2009 and won a 10-year extension in 2015.

A conversation with a porter on the way to an appointment can break up a patient’s day, and their knowledge of the site gives patients confidence when being transported.

Results gleaned

The ISS purpose of ‘Connecting People and Places to Make the World Work Better’ inspires the portering team to be ‘The best service department within UHDB’ (University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust).  It focuses on a service value chain: Safety – Team Experience – Patient Experience – Exceeding Client Expectations – and Service Delivery. During the pandemic many on the frontline team could remain within specific parts of the hospital, but the porters had to move around – regularly in high-risk areas. Health and safety was paramount and the leadership team ensured that all guidelines were adhered to and risk assessments done to ensure safety. Non-patient porters transport waste, mattresses, gas cylinders and other essential items. Other tasks include equipment moves and delivery of patient snack boxes at night. Clear communication with clinical teams is vital and the dispatcher, who coordinates the departmental logistics, is linked to a software package for portering allocation and resource tracking.

The porters provide an agile service not only for patients but also for clinical departments to ensure the continual patient flow through the hospital, allowing the optimum level of bed capacity.

Best practice learning point

When the management team creates its objectives at the start of the year, it reviews feedback from the client, patients and the team. This allows porters to focus on the fundamentals of the shared purpose. These Key Six areas allow the team to understand how the department will achieve its objectives: Health and Safety, Our Team, Our Patients, Our Colleagues, Our Innovation, Our Commercial Performance.

The ISS leadership team attends Trust Bed Meetings and Flow Meetings four times a day to learn where the portering team can support hospital flow. Decision-making is at management level, but the team is encouraged to make suggestions. A recent example concerned medical gases, which don’t fall into their remit. The increased demand for gases highlighted the fact there was no ownership of the process for returns and deliveries. The responsibility lay with the pharmacy but as demand grew it was difficult to control and shortages loomed. The porters offered to take on this process, which has been commended by the trust.

ISS is also an equal opportunities employer; the portering team includes 10 female porters and 24 BAME staff.

Key takeaways

  • Service value chain: Safety – Team Experience – Patient Experience – Exceeding Client Expectations – and Service Delivery
  • Leadership’s Trust Bed Meetings and Flow Meetings to liaise with portering team
  • The portering team aims to reflect the local community in terms of the BAME community
  • Initiatives such as supporting the Prince’s Trust and Project Search in enabling opportunities for local people
  • The Derby team can be nominated for several awards including the ISS ‘Going The Extra Mile’ (GEM) & Apple Award, and Trust ‘Making A Difference’ award
  • Skills gained by porters can lead to other clinical support roles such as radiographer assistant, healthcare assistant, multifunctional clinician and emergency department assistant