Junior doctors in England will be taking part in strike action from 7am on Saturday 24 February 2024 until the end of Wednesday 28 February. Read the strike information for February 2024

Faces of Gateshead Health at Christmas

Most people take a break from their routine to spend time with family and friends at Christmas. However, for some essential workers, holidays are just another day at work.

It takes a huge range of people, doing all different roles to keep our services running over Christmas.

Whether it’s working in the hospital, or going to people’s homes to help them to stay out of hospital. NHS staff’s unwavering commitment to providing quality healthcare services to those in need, even during the holiday season, is a testament to their selflessness and compassion. We’re shining a light on a few of our staff members who will be working this Christmas and their tireless efforts to make a difference in the lives of others.

Read on to meet the Faces of Gateshead Health at Christmas.

Steph Clark – Labour ward coordinator

Steph works every other Christmas, this will be her about her seventh Christmas day at work. Steph is the senior midwife on duty on Christmas Day working on the labour ward. Steph said: “Christmas Day in maternity is very much like any normal working day – babies don’t wait so we have the same staff on duty.”

Steph will be wearing her Christmas earrings, the staff on shift will do a Secret Santa present swap and all bring in nibbles. Steph will wake up at home with her two boys and have breakfast and open presents before coming into work.

Steph Clark - Labour Ward Coordinator
Steph Clark – Labour Ward Coordinator

Jackie Hails – Health Care Assistant in maternity

Jackie has worked lots of Christmas Days and Nights over her years at Gateshead.

Jackie said: “The postnatal ward feels different at Christmas – everyone makes an effort and it feels very Chrsitmassy. The Mums and babies all get a present on Christmas morning and their families can visit throughout the day. The staff work really hard to get those who can go home, back home to their families. The Mums get a coooked breakfast on Christmas morning.”

Jackie will be going to her daughter’s house when she finishes work to have her Christmas dinner.

Jackie Hails - HCA in maternity
Jackie Hails – HCA in maternity

Barbara McAlinden – Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner on the Special Care Baby Unit

Barbara will be working in our Special Care Baby Unit on Christmas Day – she has worked lots of Christmas Days caring for our tiniest and most vulnerable new babies.

All of the babies hang up their stockings and Santa brings their presents on Christmas Eve. There are lots of visitors – parents and siblings all come to spend time with their babies. The staff on SCBU always decorate the windows on the unit depending on the season.

Barbara will get together with her family after work and will have her Christmas Dinner on Boxing Day.

Barbara McAlindon - Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner on SCBU
Barbara McAlinden – Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner on SCBU

Aimee Renshaw – Emergency Department Charge Nurse and Wendy Hodgson – Emergency Department Housekeeper

On Christmas day Aimee and Wendy do a big breakfast – bacon and sausage sandwiches for the staff in the Emergency Department. Christmas songs will be playing and Wendy will do some singing if people play their cards right!

Aimee said : “I’ll be going to my mam’s with the rest of the family for Christmas dinner.”

Wendy said: “after my shift I’m going home to my family – they’re preparing the dinner, and we’ll celebrate with a few festive tipples.”

Thank you, Aimee and Wendy and all those who are working during the Christmas period.

Aimee Renshaw (ED Charge Nurse) and Wendy Hodgson (ED Housekeeper) both working early shifts in the ED on Xmas day.
Aimee Renshaw (ED Charge Nurse) and Wendy Hodgson (ED Housekeeper) both working early shifts in the ED on Xmas day.

Ann Seward – Switchboard Operator

Ann will be working day shifts in Switchboard on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, then spending time with her family when she finishes.

Ann said: “Having worked last Christmas I know there will be an influx of internal calls from staff, consultants and managers. Most calls though, will come from relatives of family members that are spending Christmas with us, or from people who are trying to locate their loved ones. Being a sole worker on these days, it can often be a lonely time, my colleagues in Security are aware of this and often pop in to spend a quick five minutes with me during their breaks/down time.”

It is extremely important to ensure the service we deliver continues to be professional, caring and compassionate during this time; Ann has a vast knowledge of the hospital to help callers looking for their loved ones, to give them the information they need and relieve what will likely to be, a busy Accident and Emergency department.

Ann said: “Whether it be at home or at work, on behalf of the QEF Admin Hub I would like to wish each and everyone of you a very safe and happy Christmas and all the very best for the New Year, which I am working too!”

Ann Seward - Switch board operator
Ann Seward – Switch board operator

Faye Morrison – Haematology and Blood Transfusion within Pathology

Faye, is a Senior Biomedical Scientist in Haematology and Blood Transfusion. She will be working Christmas Day in the Laboratory ensuring all patients who need life saving blood transfusions are cared for and will be processing all urgent Haematology blood tests.

Faye said: “I have worked a few Christmas Day’s in my career, previously working at Newcastle Hospitals. I feel very privileged to do a job I love and have the ability to make a difference to a patient this Christmas. A unit of blood is such a magical gift to someone who needs a transfusion! I absolutely love Christmas! It is such a magical time of year and I will most certainly be bringing the Christmas cheer in with me!

“I’m working 7am – 3pm and am really looking forward to celebrating this year with my family, in particular my little girl who has just turned one in November! I’m lucky everyone in my family is waiting for me to get home so we can have a lovely Christmas evening buffet together! We are recreating Christmas Day on the 24th this year for our traditional dinner and best of all taking my little girl to meet Santa!”

Faye Morrison - Haematology and Blood Transfusion within Pathology
Faye Morrison – Haematology and Blood Transfusion within Pathology

Jayne – Hospice at Home

Health Care Assistant Jayne works for the Hospice at Home service. In her four years at Gateshead Health Jayne has worked every Christmas Day apart from one.

Jayne said: “I don’t mind working Christmas as my son is older now and it means those with younger children can have the day off. I already feel privileged to care for our terminally ill patients in their own homes but going in on Christmas Day and making a difference makes it that extra special. We have stocking gifts for all of our patients with some little goodies in which we hand out on Christmas Day.

“I am working an early shift so will be finished for 3pm, I am cooking Christmas lunch for my family when I get in from work, I will also have a little drink as I am off work Boxing Day, when I say little I mean big, haha.” 

Jayne - Hospice at Home.
Jayne – Hospice at Home.

Louise – Community nurse practitioner

This year, Louise, who is a community nurse practitioner based within the South locality team will be working on Christmas Day. The role of the locality teams is usually to visit people in their own homes and care home, to prevent hospital admissions and reduce GP workload.

Louise’s role will change on Christmas day though as she will be working on single point of contact, coordinating all of the locality nursing teams, taking referrals over the telephone and assisting patient, relatives and carers over the telephone. She will also assist the nursing team by offering advice and guidance, when needed, along with assisting/managing with more complex situation.

Most planned work is still carried out through the festive period, including palliative care and medication administration. As well as the serious side to our job, we try to make the working day nice with lots of goodies to eat, Christmas music in the background, a secret Santa within the teams, a Christmas quiz and some even wear festive tights

My Christmas day will be celebrated on Boxing Day this year, as my sister is also a nurse and working. So we will have a big family get together with Christmas lunch and presents on Boxing Day. I hope everybody has a very merry Christmas and good wishes for 2024.

Louise - Community nurse practitioner with the South locality team
Louise – Community nurse practitioner with the South locality team

Matty Smith – Acute and Emergency Medicine Pharmacist

I’m Matty Smith is an Acute and Emergency Medicine Pharmacist on the Emergency Assessment Unit. He’ll be on call from 9am on Christmas day to 9am on Boxing day, and working in the hospital from 2pm to 4pm on Christmas day.

Matty said “I’ll be around to give medicines advice to any staff in the hospital. I’ll also give urgent supplies of medication to the wards, or any patients who are able to go home. Finger crossed I’ll be able to help some people with the medicines they need to spend Christmas with their loved ones instead of in hospital.”

There will only be a small team of three Pharmacy staff covering the whole hospital on Christmas day, so there will be lots to do. They’ll make the day special by putting some Christmas tunes on, bringing some snacks in to share and maybe even wear a Christmas jumper.

Matty said “It’ll be hard to celebrate with being on call over the whole of Christmas day, but I’ll still be having Christmas dinner with my family and I’ll try to get time to go to my grandma’s. I’ll save the main celebration for a day I’m not on call though.”

Matty Smith - Acute and Emergency Medicine Pharmacist
Matty Smith – Acute and Emergency Medicine Pharmacist

Nina Goudie – Junior Practitioner, Gateshead Rapid Response Team

The Rapid Response Team will be working in the community on Christmas Day, helping patients who are acutely unwell to stay at home and still be able to celebrate Christmas as best they can with their families.

Nina said: “While it will be hard being away from my own family this Christmas, helping our patients to remain at home and be with their loved ones will be very fulfilling. I consider myself to be so fortunate to have my role, and Christmas Day will be a reminder to me how lucky I am.”

The team will each bring in food and snacks for a buffet-style meal on Christmas day, for a shared celebration among them all.

Nina said: “Before work, I will still visit my family to exchange gifts and celebrate the day with them while I can. After work, I’m hoping I can watch the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special!

“But Christmas Day for me this year will be on Boxing Day, when I can celebrate properly with my loved ones and enjoy all that Christmas brings.

“I am looking forward to some lovely food, great company, and time to relax and reflect on a great year.”

“What is Christmas? It is the tenderness of the past, courage for the present, and hope for the future” – Agnes M Pharo

Nina Goudie - Junior Practitioner - Gateshead Rapid Response Team
Nina Goudie – Junior Practitioner – Gateshead Rapid Response Team

David and Sophie – Emergency Assessment Unit, Nursing Assistants

Both David and Sophie support with care directly for patients that have been admitted to the hospital, usually via the Emergency Department or Same Day Emergency Care. They both look after a number of patients directly on shift. It will be both of their first Christmas on the Emergency Assessment Unit (EAU) here so they are looking forward to seeing how it goes!

On EAU everybody is bringing in some nice food and are going to share a lovely breakfast buffet!

David said “I’ll be having my Christmas dinner on 28 December as that’s the first day I’m off work. I’m looking forward to being spoiled by my girlfriend!

Sophie said: “my family is waiting until I finish work to celebrate. It will be nice to be here for patients on Christmas for people that don’t have other people to celebrate with.”

David and Sophie - EAU Nursing Assistants
David and Sophie – EAU Nursing Assistants

A huge thank you to all of our staff who will be working this Christmas.

Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust wishes all the patients, staff and partners a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!