The Chief Nurse at Epsom and St Helier hospitals, Charlotte Hall, is going back to the floor and looking at nursing care from every angle – by spending shifts with porters and surgical teams, as well as nurses in Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children.
Although Charlotte spends time caring for patients on general wards every week, she wanted to find out more about how different teams work within the hospital and what patients experience in every department.
Starting with a night shift with the porters (the team who help transport patients within the hospital, for example, from A&E to x-ray), Charlotte said: “I’ve always said that porters are the soul of any hospital. By spending time with them, you get to see every nook and cranny of the hospital, and get a real insight into how our different teams work together.
“I really enjoyed my time with the porters and certainly learnt lots, but it wasn’t an easy shift! I don’t think we stopped walking all evening, so it served as a reminder of just how hard our porters work and how well they treat our patients. They are a really compassionate team and great fun to work with. I also learnt how to get equipment from the equipment library where the gas cylinders are kept, including how to transport them correctly, as well as lots of other things.”
Once her feet had recovered from walking miles with the porters, Charlotte spent time in the children’s day surgery unit at St Helier, observing operations to repair hernias and tongue ties. Charlotte was impressed by what she saw: “I witnessed some really good team work in the theatre. It’s a great environment, very well run by Carol Hillier and her team and you can see that the care they provide is of a high quality from start to finish. All the parents and children were particularly well looked after and were managed with such kindness and compassion by the nurses, operating department assistants (ODAs), theatre porters and the surgeons.”
Charlotte has also spent time with the theatre teams at both Epsom and St Helier where matrons Phil Henry and Anna Stedeford and their teams made her feel very welcome. Charlotte accompanied an ODA to B3 ward to collect a lady for her operation and was very impressed with the ODA’s skill and expertise in making the patient feel better.
Charlotte said: “The patient was naturally worried and concerned about having an operation, and I was shocked at the convoluted journey we have to use to take the patient to theatre because the beds can’t fit in some of the lifts.
“It has raised the issue of walking in the patient’s shoes with us again, and we’re already looking at ways to improve the routes we use.”
Charlotte said she was also impressed during her time with theatres: “I really admire the safety and attention to detail the theatre teams have; I would feel very confident having an operation in this trust. The air conditioning was a relief too!’
Charlotte already has a shift with the maternity department booked, and will be taking time out of her busiest diary to spend time with different teams over the next six months.