Royal Stoke staff walking ‘eight miles-a-day’ on wards and juggling personal life share their Covid-19 stories


Behind-the-scenes hospital staff have revealed what their working lives are like in the wake of the coronavirus.

Royal Stoke’s ancillary staff, who manage everything from doctor staffing levels to porters transporting patients, provide an all too vital service and have spoken to StokeonTrentLive.

Personal conflicts about whether or not to send their children to school and how they will stay safe themselves are mounting pressures for NHS staff.

Donna Fairbrother is a medical secretary and rota co-ordinator at Royal Stoke. The 38-year-old has had tough personal decisions to make as well keeping staffing levels where they need to be at work.

The mum-of-two said: “It’s busy as to be expected but we’re just carrying on with our jobs and supporting the team as needed.

Elderly Care Secretarial team – Kim Fernihough (sitting) and Donna Fairbrother

“A lot of my job is planning for the doctors on the ward which is quite challenging at the moment. The challenges at the moment are staffing levels, but for me it’s personal challenges too, like trying to make sure that you’re staying safe and supporting the NHS.

“It’s the personal conflict as well. I’ve had to send my children into school so there’s that conflict you feel. But we carry on don’t we? We social distance and we carry on.”

Royal Stoke porter Roy Hughes, aged 66, of Meir said: “It’s extremely difficult at the moment, we’re under a lot of pressure. Things have been a bit hectic at times but we have to hold ourselves up and put on a happy face.

“It’s difficult with this thing going on and I’m a bit sad today because there’s a lot of people gone and it’s not as happy a place as it should be. But it’s the job, isn’t it? We do our best.

Sodexo Portering team: (LtoR) Roy Hughes, Janice Hawkins, Michael Rubio, Mitchell Powell, Geoff Chambers

The porter of 11 years explained new challenges facing staff, he added: “There’s different procedures in place, different PPE we havbe to use and new restrictions coming about underlying health conditions, so it’s very complex at the moment.

“It’s a grey area with the underlying conditions working as you read one thing and somebody tells you another. So until you see it in black and white it’s business as usual. It’s difficult times but we’re here to help people, that’s our job.”

Royal Stoke’s Lisa Robinson works as a ward assistant, she said: “Working as a ward assistant makes you realise you play an important role in the NHS.

“We deal with an array of patients on a daily basis some of which are very poorly.

Estates and Facilities team (LtoR): Linda Parks, Barry Pinnington, Jude Tildsley, Val Simpson, Ann-Marie Edwards, Richard Clarke

“My job is try to make them smile and make them feel as comfortable as possible, even if it is giving them an extra biscuit with their cup of tea.

“At this crucial time it is imperative all staff work as one for the best interests of the patients and work as a team.”

Stewart Robinson, UHNM Unison branch secretary thanked the often unsung heroes, he said: “Unison has many members of the non-clinical staff working at Royal Stoke and County Hospitals and Haywood Hospitals who very rarely get a thank you for their work at UHNM.

“The staff are just as much part of the front line clinical teams and without them, the hospital would come to a stand still. We know that every ward, bay, room, corridor across the hospitals are cleaned every day and even more so at this critical time.

“We know that the hospital has to run pretty much as usual, but on skeleton staffing levels due to self isolation, admin staff are still happy enough to come in a help out where necessary to type urgent letters for patients.

Ward Assistants and Domestics on Ward 113: (LtoR): Mick Baker, Lisa Simpson, Shelley Patterson, Lisa Robinson

“Our porters at Stoke and County work, really hard, some of them walking around eight miles per day taking patients, essential goods, such as blood specimens and fetching patients to and from theatres.

“We have our ward assistants too, supporting the clinical staff and supplying the patients with food and drinks throughout the day to. Even those who are suffering with suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases.

“I believe that all non-clinical staff across our hospitals work tirelessly around the clock to support the hospital in their daily running and I believe that they should not be the forgotten heroes.”

Drop a heart on our special map of gratitude to show your support for our NHS heroes https://www.thanksamillionnhs.co.uk/





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