Karen Howell, Chief Executive of Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, writes for the Globe.

CAN you believe it's August already?

Time really is flying by and what a first half of the year it’s been.

Never did I imagine we would be responding to one of the biggest public health emergencies the world has seen.

But we have responded, and together with other local NHS organisations, the council, fire and rescue services and the independent sector we are continuing to do so.

Here at Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust we could not have done it alone, and not without the dedication, commitment and enthusiasm of our students.

So, this week I want to dedicate my column to each and every one of our students.

They have all worked tirelessly over the last few months to support a number of our services in continuing to deliver high quality care to the people of Wirral.

As part of their placements with us they have adapted to new models of learning, as well as new and innovative ways of delivering and providing care to patients and service users.

Pre-COVID our students would have traditionally worked one-to-one with their practice supervisors.

As this was not possible due to national restrictions, new ways of working have enabled them to gain the experience they needed to complete their training and placements with us, whilst we continued to provide a safe and supportive learning environment.

This new way of working has been really well received by both students and our staff and is something that we will be continuing with in the future.

To celebrate the completion of their placements myself and our director of nursing, Paula Simpson, were honoured to attend a fantastic celebratory event and to say we were blown away hearing about their placement experiences is an understatement.

Listening to the journeys that these students have been on was incredible and how they have supported our services, such as community nursing, community cardiology, rapid response and the local COVID swabbing team, during an international pandemic.

It was so lovely to hear how much they had learnt, grown in confidence and developed new skills during their time with us.

Talking about her time with us Charlotte, who was deployed to the Bidston swabbing team said: "I was quite nervous at first, but I couldn't have asked for a better placement.

"We were fortunate to work with so many different people from all backgrounds."

Reflecting on the past few months, Katy Fisher, Practice Education Facilitator, said: "I am thrilled that we were able to quickly respond to the needs of students and our communities during the COVID-19 response.

"I'm also proud of the way the students quickly became part of our team and how our staff stepped up and adapted, finding new ways to support learning."

We work closely with many universities, colleges and organisations to provide numerous opportunities for local students to gain hands on experience of delivering community services.

Supporting students is so rewarding and our placement programme is a complete success.

I would like to wish our students every success in the next chapter of their journey and I'm absolutely thrilled that some of them have been successful in securing permanent posts with the Trust and look forward to welcoming them to Team WCHC.