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'We are here' over Christmas say staff at Cornwall's hospitals
12:00pm Tuesday 24th December 2013 in News
The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust is reminding people that many of its departments will be carrying on as normal over the festive period.
Staff in the emergency department and maternity unit at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro and the urgent care centre at West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance, along with those on wards at both hospitals, will share the day with the many patients staying in.
Sian Ireland, consultant in emergency medicine, said: "The team always make the effort to put some decorations up especially in the children’s area and we usually co-ordinate festive food for our breaks but the Christmas bank holidays are normal working days for ED staff.
"Over the festive period we most often see older people who’ve not wanted to spoil the day for the family by complaining until it’s much later and then they feel quite unwell. We’d like to remind people to seek medical help when they need it and to think about where is the best place to access it. GPs and minor injury units will all have services over the festive period but if you need emergency care, we are here."
Clinical imaging and X-Ray staff will also be working through Christmas ensuring x-rays, MRI and CT scans can all be provided, and there is an MRI list running on Boxing Day morning.
David Tremain, Specialist Radiographer, said: "If you get an appointment for 9am on Boxing Day for your MRI, it’s not a joke we are running a scanning session."
The Trust’s hotel services department, which includes security, porters, cleaners and catering, work 365 days of the year.
Nathan Harrow, hotel services manager, says: "This means that the Christmas bank holidays are normal days for our staff with cleaners on duty, porters, those who provide catering services and waste services all working. It is important that our standards are maintained every day of the year and this is something the staff pride themselves in."
Staff at the Sunrise Centre in Truro which provides radiotherapy treatment to patients with cancer, have been working flat out, including Saturdays in December, to get treatment completed for as many patients as possible by Christmas Eve allowing them to enjoy the time at home, and the majority of staff will get Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day off, although radiotherapists will be on call.
On the children’s wards the working week for staff will also roll on as normal with the only concession to Christmas being that non-emergency surgery day cases stop. The children’s department is open 52 weeks a year with nursing staff, doctors and healthcare workers all working over the festive period.
Lead clinical nurse specialist in breast cancer, Josephine Brand, said: "The Mermaid Centre is business as usual with just the bank holidays being taken. The only difference will be that our screening van will not be working on Christmas Eve as it would mean the wait would be too long for the women to be called for the assessment clinics."
To make sure Christmas on the wards is as normal as possible, the Friends of the Royal Cornwall Hospital provide a gift for all inpatients from birth through to the eldercare wards so that everyone has something to open on Christmas day.
Beatrice Dyer, chairman of the RCH Friends, said: "The Friends distribute our gifts to the wards in the run up to Christmas so that the ward staff can ensure a gift is on each patient’s bed on Christmas Day. We also provide the play specialists with special packets of reindeer dust for the children on the wards on December 24."
The Royal Cornwall Hospital’s chapel will be open as normal, and held a carol service on December 19.
Rev Mark Richards said: "The chaplains provide a 24 hour on-call service throughout the Christmas period. On Christmas Day, there will be a service for patients and staff on from 10am which is being led by the Bishop of St Germans, Christopher Goldsmith. The chaplains and their volunteers will also be visiting the wards and providing support at the bedside where it has been requested."
This year for the first time, throughout the period of advent there will be a tree of thanks in the Hospital Chapel.
Rev Richards said: "We are encouraging people to remember someone or to give thanks for something by taking a heart or star shaped piece of card, writing a message on it and then placing it on the tree. It is hoped that our volunteers will also offer this opportunity to patients and their carers’ as they visit the wards in the build up to Christmas."
While Christmas is usually a happy time, it is important to remember that for some it is also a time of loss. The Trust’s bereavement office will only close for the three bank holidays although the hospital’s mortuary staff will run an on-call telephone service for advice and support.
Linda Warne, bereavement care co-ordinator, said: "Out of hours our team have an answer-phone message service on the Bereavement Office telephone 01872 252713 which staff pick up on the next working day but for emergencies and urgent cases please phone the switchboard on 01872 250000 and ask for the mortuary technician on-call."
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