‘My day’ by the people on Hinchingbrooke’s Hospital frontline

AHEAD of today’s historic hand-over of Hinchingbrooke Hospital to private management company Circle, The Hunts Post spoke to staff about a typical day caring for Huntingdonshire patients and their hopes for the future.

Corin Prunty is the lead nurse for critical care services at Hinchingbrooke Hospital. Part of her role is to support and develop nursing practices and monitor standards of care.

“The first half an hour of my day is the only bit that is the same everyday. I come in about 7.30am, meet with the night staff on critical care and hear about any issues or problems, and admissions or discharges. I also meet with all the staff coming on duty.

“I might get all those things sorted in the first half-an-hour of my day, or it might take longer. It depends on what is going on. I will also have to check e-mails and catch up with staff in different areas.

“We have got a nine-bed ward. The sickest patients in the hospital are in critical care. If the patient has respiratory failure, we put them on ventilators, or life support machines, as they are commonly known. Patients can have between one and five organs that we are supporting.

“Those patients do not remember their time in critical care, but their families do. We keep patient diaries to help patients when they are recovering, as they often experience wierd dreams.

“Because the patients are the sickest, we have a lot more nurses. We have one-to-one nursing. It costs on average �1,400 a day to keep someone in intensive care, but that depends on what organs need supporting.

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“A multi-disciplinary team looks after patients, that includes doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, speech language therapsts, radiographers and dieticians, so communication is very important.

“I am looking forward to Circle coming. I think it is an exciting opportunity. It is going to be so new for everyone, but I do like Circle’s philosophy about coming down and asking people what they want.”

Lynda Hall is the lead nurse for palliative cancer care and manages the Woodlands Centre.

“My role apart from managing the Woodlands unit is working with the Anglia Cancer Network, looking at developing cancer services.

“The trusts that the network covers must make sure cancer services are up to the right standard. Cancer treatments are changing all the time.

“There are more and more treatments available now than there was when I started 16 years ago. There has been an increase in treatments and in patients diagnosed with cancer.

“We look at treating 90 patients a week for chemotherapy and blood transfusions, and within the clinics that are run we see 200 patients a week.

“There are 36 staff in total at the Woodlands Centre, including some heavily specialist nurses, such as haematology nurses and chemotherapy nurses, as well as our admissions team.

“I trained and specialised in breast cancer. As things developed, I came into a more managerial role. I run a breast cancer support group every Thursday evening and that is very well supported. On average we will have between 20 and 25 patients.

“We have got a fantastic unit at the Woodlands Centre. The ambience is superb - all the patients and families comment on it. It is almost self-contained, away from the hustle and bustle of the main hospital.

“It is a lovely calm atmosphere to work in. The patients motivate the staff through seeing them cope with their diagnosis.

“There are positive vibes around the trust and the meetings we have had with Circle representatives. We are looking forward to working with them.”

Sarah Kitchen is an inpatient services manager for maternity, post-natal, ante-natal and the labour ward. She is also the lead for clinical neglicence.

“My background is as a midwife, and if the labour ward is busy, I am not adverse to putting on a pair of gloves and doing some clinical work.

“I usually come in around 8am. I go and visit the ward areas, and check if there are any issues I need to be aware of. I do about half-an-hour of checking my emails.

My day is filled up either with network meetings, resource meetings and checking that things we are working on are being dealt with in a prompt manner.

“I also supervise midwives and have a role in supporting them. It is my job to make sure that they are happy and developing within their role.

“My role is also to look at guidelines for best practice. There is always national information that is coming through NICE. We have to reflect the national guidelines and make sure that we are offering women the best service that we can possibly do.

“One of my current projects is reducing our infection rates. At the moment we are at 22 per cent and the national average is 25 per cent, but there are always ways we can improve.

“The way women give birth and the fundamental principal of what patients and families want is the same as when I started as a midwife in 1987.

“We have a new maternity ward and we feel quite positive about the future. Circle are very keen for us to offer maternity services that are excellent. We want to encourage women to come to Hinchingbrooke. We are a good, small unit offering excellent obstetric care.”

Clare Carpenter is the lead nurse for emergency lead nursing, which includes accident and emergency, and the medical admissions unit.

“A particular type of nurse chooses to go and work in A&E. At one moment you can be looking after someone with a fractured knee and the next you are looking after an extremely sick patient. The key is having experience and being supported by colleagues.

“We are a 24 hour service, seven days a week. I will arrive early and leave late. It depends on patient needs and the capacity in the hospital. We work together with the rest of the hospital to ensure the patients go to the right wards.

“The skills that we need in A&E are supporting the patient, listening and understanding. There is a good deal of teamwork in A&E.

“My job is a lot around quality and standards, and leading our service, making sure it is sustainable. Clinical work, I do if it is needed. It is my favourite part of the job.

“I love the unpredictability of A&E. We see on average 100 patients a day. We have less patients in the morning. Our busy times are around midday and 6pm.

“We have got a very small accident and emergency unit compared to what you have got down the A14, but we serve our community very well.

“We want to become a good district hospital with excellent emergency services for the community. It is important to us and important to Circle.

“The community want an A&E here and Circle are very keen to keep one. We do deliver good care. It is a very good service. We listen to our patients and ask for feedback, so they will come back.”

Lorraine Sizer is a specialist chemotherapy sister at the Woodlands Centre.

“My role covers a multitude of aspects. I oversee 12 nurses that work within the chemotherapy unit. We have 93 patients a week coming through the clinic.

“The majority of my time is clinical-based. Although I have to have time out to do paperwork and management. We have just employed two new staff to give chemotherapy and other basic skills, so I am involved in their training.

“An average day can start off nice - I know this is the day ahead - but that can soon change. Bearing in mind patients are having chemotherapy, they often have side effects from the chemo.

“If they have side-effects they can come to us Monday to Friday during working hours, if they have problems with infection or pain control. We also run a 24-hour service in the hospital.

“We don’t treat all types of cancer, we treat certain types of cancer. We do not offer in-patient chemotherapy, we have got a designated ward for that. Most chemotherapy is delivered in an out-patient setting.

“We try and have a key worker so they get to know the same people. Obviously that is not possible, all the time. But we do try to have continuity of care. It is quite a small unit.

“We have got a lot of plans for developing our unit. We are all hopeful of the future.”