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What it’s like to be a radiographer at London’s Nightingale Hospital

6th May 2020

Alexandra Cook, Department Lead Radiographer tells us about her experiences on the frontline.

Eight radiographers outside the Nightingale Hospital in uniform
Alex Cook takes a selfie outside the Nightingale with Patricia Garcia, Robin Jacob, Lauren England, Katie Pantling, CK, Erin Pudney, and Kerry Mills.

Before receiving a phone call to come to the Nightingale, I knew as soon as the project was announced that I wanted to help. Being an NHS worker, the first response to any emergency is that you want to help fight to save lives. It is a natural instinct for a professional who works in healthcare.

My mum cried (I am in my 30s) and she works in social care and is run off her feet herself. She understood when I said, “Don’t worry, mum; it is something that I just have to do.” One of the radiography team, Robin Jacob, also thought it was the right thing to do but it was hard to explain it to his wife.

Katie Davison, team lead radiographer, said, “I did not have any idea of what I was involving myself in. Everything was unknown, from the shift pattern, the volume of patients and even the type of radiological examinations which would be expected of me.”

This was true for us all: it was planning for the unknown.

We learned that Covid-19 disease management relies heavily on imaging, with the focus on chest x-rays and CT. At the Nightingale we perform general mobile x-rays in the ICU. Chest x-rays provide clinicians with images to see patient progress and to monitor the placement of lines.

CT provides imaging for patients who develop acute conditions, so they may be treated appropriately, or can be transferred for emergency care in acute trusts.

For me, it has made me go back to the foundations of why I became a radiographer and why I went into management. I started my career as a HCA working with a brilliant lead radiographer, who inspired me to become a radiographer.

One month on andThe ExCeL Centre is now the Nightingale Hospital. It looks like a hospital and it feels like a hospital. The ethos of the Nightingale is that we are ‘one team’ and radiology is very much part of it. Radiographers have adapted their ways of working.

They help the ward teams with day-to-day jobs, making sure that ward staff and the team are supported, and that our patients receive the best care. They are all very proud to be Nightingale Radiographers.

The radiology team are extremely proud to work at the Nightingale, London and we are immensely proud of all the other staff members that work with us. There is positivity, pure motivation and high morale.

We are uncertain what the future holds as the pandemic continues, but we do know that if it wasn’t for the response of every NHS worker and trust, every person that has stayed at home, we wouldn’t be able to lead the fight against it and be ready for anything it brings to us.

Working at the Nightingale is truly a humbling experience and a phenomenal endeavour.


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