My day in A&E
(fortunately not because of injury or ill-health!)
It was 5.15am as I stepped onto the train from Southampton Central to London Waterloo. So early, even the station coffee shop wasn’t yet open. I was attending a photoshoot for emergency department nurses and middle grade doctors, as part of an exciting project for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to produce a series of recruitment packs to help the Trust to successfully appoint additional staff. One of our aims was to capture the busy 8am hand-over between night and day shift.
No, I’m not a photographer. I was there to conduct short interviews with the staff featured in the photos, to develop a series of staff profiles and quotes about why A&E at Imperial College Healthcare is a great place to work.
Our day began at pace as we weaved in and out of the various healthcare teams, catching a few words here and there with staff as they moved between patients, all the while conscious that our purpose – while important to the Trust from a strategic perspective, was very much secondary to the immediacy of delivering frontline healthcare services.
Over the course of the day, we visited both the Trust’s A&E departments – at St Mary’s and Charing Cross hospitals, as well as the paediatric A&E department at St Mary’s. This involved travelling on a minibus service operating between both sites in west London and run by Trust estates staff. As I shared the ride with a range of support staff as well as medics and nurses, I felt immersed within a community of professionals, all working towards a shared goal.
By the end of the day, I’d interviewed around 20 staff – from play specialists and phlebotomists, to matrons and consultants. The experience left me in awe of every single one of them.
There was Alexander, a clinical fellow in paediatrics, who’s bedside manner I admired as he helped glue a gash on the forehead of a schoolgirl. There was Daniel, a charge nurse who spoke warmly about how he fell in love with A&E nursing on his very first placement over 20 years ago. There was Lucy, a consultant of 20 years standing who explained how every major incident she’d been involved in had run completely to plan, because everyone knew their role within the team and exactly what was needed from them at any given moment. And there was Charlotte, a matron who talked of the pride she felt for her staff of 70 nurses, many of whom would phone up and offer to come in on their day off if the team were particularly stretched.
I was struck by an overwhelming feeling of team spirit and camaraderie. The jokes and banter flowed, there was warmth and kindness aplenty – and seeping from every pore, a passion to deliver the best possible care for their patients.
I only hope we’ve managed to convey this warmth, personality and professionalism in the three recruitment packs for Imperial College Healthcare that are now in full use by the Trust.
You can download the packs here to see for yourself: