What is your role?
“I am a sister in the Emergency Department here, known also as A&E. I am also the lead on domestic violence and safeguarding here, which means I help look after vulnerable children and anyone in a situation involving domestic violence or abuse.
“In my role as Sister, I am responsible for a team of four nurses and four healthcare assistants (HCAs). I make sure all their training is up to date, I manage sickness and compliance and carry out appraisals. We work as part of a wider team in A&E which deals with all emergency attendances at the hospital. People come here by choice, walking in off the street if something is seriously wrong with them; and they also come here involuntarily, perhaps after an accident, via an ambulance. We never know what is going to come through the door but we have to deal with it, treating people and either admitting them to the hospital or discharging them home.”
Why did you want to do this job?
“I’ve been working in A&E for 19 years. I started as a HCA in 1995. Before that I was a nursery nurse but I didn’t get on with the family I worked with so when I saw the HCA position advertised I went for it.
“I hated it at first. Accident and Emergency isn’t for everyone and often I would go home in tears and thought it wasn’t for me. But I started to love it; started to love the fact that you never know what’s coming in next. I like it when it’s busy and I don’t think I could work on a ward. I love how close we are as a team and how we help each other through things. You either love or hate A&E and it seems I’m one of the ones who loves it.
“I found it more difficult because in my first year, I lost my brother in a road accident. It was at a different hospital to where I worked but I had to go and identify him.
“That made me quite relative-focused in my work. Some nurses here get excited when they know a trauma patient is on their way to the department. They enjoy the energy and the action. But, having been on the other side, I think first about the family, the relatives. I would rather sit with them, have a cup of tea and give them time and support. I felt I had little support when my brother was in A&E so that’s changed the way I work.”
What do you like particularly about Derby Teaching Hospitals?
“The team I’m part of in A&E is amazing. The group of staff I am directly responsible for, we go out and socialise together. If we have had a rough shift we’ll go for a drink or a coffee afterwards and we often go for breakfast after a night shift. You need a good team in this job. You need to know that people have got your back and in Derby I absolutely feel this.
“We also have a fantastic team of consultants who are right there with us through everything. When there is a real trauma, everyone knows what they are doing, there is this trust that everyone will do their job and the consultants respect that; there’s no hierarchy with the doctors. It’s amazing to be part of.”
Why did you decide to take part in the programme?
“I am proud of where I work and of the job that I do. I want my family to be proud of me. I was the first one in my family to go to university; I had a council estate upbringing. I have two children, one’s 14 and the other 11. I’m bringing them up to see that whatever you want in life you have to work for. I want them to see this and see what their mum does all day, so they can understand why I might come home ratty sometimes.
“I also wanted to help highlight the problems we have in A&E. Sometimes it can feel like a glorified GP surgery, there are so many patients coming in with inappropriate cases and conditions. We can’t turn people away so we treat them but if this programme can show what A&E is really for and encourage people to see their GP unless it really is an emergency, then that can only be a good thing.”
How was it working with the camera and crew?
“It was fine, the production crew slotted in with us. They didn’t get in anyone’s way, they were really discreet. There were a couple of patients who didn’t want to be on camera but that was fine: they were asked and they said no, the crew understood and respected it completely.
“The crew made an effort. They would come and have dinner with us and as much as they could kind of embedded themselves in what we did. That helped them get some really real footage.”
How do you think viewers will react to the programme – especially the parts you appear in?
“I think the programme will show the real unexpected nature of what we see in A&E well. I hope people watching will be reassured that they will get good care if they come here and that they see we have a good department. We have some brilliant staff here and I think that’s what will come across in the programme, how much we all care.
“I think people will be surprised and reassured to see that we as staff get emotional about things. We’re not robots, we’re human. There has been a few times I have had to tell people their relative has died and I have had to choke back tears. I know some consultants who have had the same experience. But I think people need to see that from hospital staff, that empathy, that emotion.”
What will you remember from the whole experience?
“Well, I think the part which will really grab people’s attention will be the bit with the woman having a baby outside A&E. I was working in the area we call ‘pitstop’ that day, a kind of rapid assessment bay. I looked outside and I could see that a car had pulled up and was blocking the ambulance parking area. I went out there to ask them to move because it is important that area is kept clear.
“There were two other staff out there and we quickly realised what was going on. The crew had come out with me and I knew they were going to get something special. I was quite emotional about it all, it was really positive. We took the baby through to children’s A&E and then I took mum through to see her new baby. It was lovely and from what I hear, they’re both doing really well.”