The husband and wife duo who have worked every Christmas Day for 15 years at QA Hospital

WHILE the majority of us pile our plates high for Christmas dinner and try to stuff in just one more Quality Street, staff across the city’s hospital will be working hard to give the patients the treatment they need.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 6:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 9:24 am

Husband and wife duo Gary and Gemma Pratt will be spending December 25 at Queen Alexandra Hospital as they have done for the last 15 years.

Gary is an orthogeriatric nurse specialist lead working with the fragility hip fracture patients in Orthopaedics, while Gemma is an older persons nurse specialist in the Frailty and Interface Team, working in the Acute Medical Unit and Emergency Department.Gary said: ‘Not having children – we have dogs! - has meant Christmas Day has never been a must-have day off for us.

‘My team of nurses have children, so us working gives them this time off. We like working on Christmas day, most staff are in a good mood and there is usually an element of fancy dress which creates a good atmosphere.’

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Gary Pratt and Gemma Pratt

The pair met when they both began working at St Mary’s Hospital in Portsmouth in 2003, and married soon afterwards.

Gemma added: ‘Just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t mean people don’t become sick.

‘Our role benefits them like every other day of the year we cover. It is just a normal day at the office for us, and it’s all about our older frail patients is and trying to help them get better and get home.’

For doctor Kalim Ullah it will be his first time working Christmas as he joined the trust in April this year.

Rio Hamilton

Karim, who works within the Oncology department, said: ‘I feel that the real essence to celebrate Christmas being a doctor is to help the patients and soothe their pain. I will enjoy my day with my patients and I will try to bring smiles to their faces.

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‘I feel I make a good rapport with the patients, so I hope they feel that I can address their concerns and make them feel that someone is here for them even on this day.’

Making sure patients and staff don’t miss out on Christmas dinner is assistant head chef Jackie Carter who has worked in QA’s B Level restaurant for 15 years.

Kalim Ullah

She said: ‘Although I have a family at home it is important to come to work over Christmas, to deliver a great service. I always remember that we are here for the patients.

‘No matter what day it is. We make sure that they have hot lunches and are well catered for.’

As is the season for giving, Rio Hamilton, a sister on the Acute Stroke Admissions ward will be working on December 25 to give other members of her team a well-deserved break.

Jackie Carter

Rio, who began her time at the Trust in February this year, said: ‘I have chosen to work all day this year so that my colleagues can spend time with their families and friends.

‘I’m excited to be here on Christmas day and make the best of the day for our patients who have to stay here over the holidays. We always sing Christmas songs, as well as trying to sit the patients at a table together for lunch.

‘We often have small gifts we give out, and volunteers will usually come to the ward for companionship and more carols.’

Rio added: ‘I feel that as nurses we are a big support to patients spending Christmas in hospital.

‘We always aim to get people home with their families if possible. For those who have to stay here, we make sure they have the most positive experiences we can give.’

After recovering from a stroke, volunteer Sally Gates has been determined to make the most of every day, including December 25 when she will be working on the Paediatrics wards.

Debbie Suso and Anya Werrell

She said: ‘This is my first Christmas working. I’m looking forward to bringing smiles to children’s faces, or chatting with parents who may be having a difficult time with a child in hospital.

‘I also want to be there for staff who have left their families to be at work.’

With 50 years of service between them, Debbie Suso and Anya Werrell, clinical nurse specialists in the palliative care team, are always focused on putting their patients first 365 days a year.

The pair will be working together on Christmas day in the palliative care department on Older Persons Medicine.

Anya said: ‘Christmas is always a difficult time for patients and their families when they are coming to the end of their life.

‘Providing support is essential to ensure that the memories the family have from this time will be positive.’

Debbie added: ‘It’s all about making a difference to a palliative patient’s symptom management.

‘We both feel very privileged to be involved during the most vulnerable time in their life.’

Sally Gates (left) and patient experience assistant Donna Hughes