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Right on the frontline, our porters are essential in transporting patients and goods to where they need to be at the right time. But that’s not all they do. Operating 24/7, they are also part of emergency response, attend violence and aggression incidents and often act as that first point of contact for patients on arrival to the hospital. Their roles are truly diverse and essential to the smooth running of the hospitals.

Rachel Lock, Portering Coordinator has worked in the department based at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital since 2007. She said, “Typically we move patients and equipment, but there’s more to it than that. Every ward has set things they need to do on that day that require our assistance, but from a portering perspective it’s just part of a bigger system. We work to keep that system fluid and robust and so everything runs to schedule and there are no knock on effects. The flow has to be right across both hospitals, without it patients would miss appointments and samples wouldn’t get processed on time for example.”

Patient care is at the forefront of the team’s mind and they enjoy the interaction that they get with patients and staff alike. “Those times when we’re with patients are important and we’re sometimes the first impression they get of the hospital. We’re there to listen to their fears, about their grandchildren or their dog and if needed offer a reassuring word. It’s not something that’s written down anywhere, it’s just something that happens.”

Trevor Osgood is the Night Porter Coordinator at Cheltenham General Hospital where he has worked for 14 years. He said, “When the opportunity came up to be a Porter, I jumped at the chance – it’s the best thing I did. Being a Night Porter is very different to working in the day, apart from the obvious time difference there are different jobs that have to be done overnight to ensure the next day runs as smoothly as possible. We still move patients at night time, but one of the biggest tasks is collecting all the dirty laundry and transporting all the clean laundry to where it needs to be ready for the day ahead.”

Since COVID-19, the teams at Gloucester and Cheltenham have been involved in scenario exercises to transport patients’ safely to where they need to be. It’s taken a good deal of planning from the teams and as a result they have had to work in a different way. Trevor says “We’ve had to don gloves, masks and aprons where needed and be more mindful to ensure that everything is done as safely as possible. Whenever moving patients we’ve had to get the logistics right and make sure the corridors are clear and lifts arrive at just the right time.”

The Portering team are clearly well respected and it is well known throughout the hospitals that if you want to know the answer to anything you just need to ask a Porter. Everything is taken in their stride and earlier this year both hospital site teams received a High Sheriff of Gloucestershire Award recognising their ‘great and valuable services to the community’.

Both Rachel and Trevor say that they get huge satisfaction and pride in their work. Rachel says she is proud to be part of such a high performing team and everything they achieve together on a daily basis, “The team’s dedication and flexibility has been fantastic and the teamwork has been phenomenal. Everyone is happy to help and I am really grateful of that.” Trevor adds, “To be a porter you have to be people- centred. You’re usually with people when they are at their most vulnerable and knowing you’ve helped someone in whatever way is very rewarding. I’m proud to know that I make a difference.”

Whether you are in Gloucestershire Royal Hospital or Cheltenham General Hospital, there in the day or night, although some of the tasks may be different, the standards of service and ethos is exactly the same, you just may see a different person at the end of it.

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