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Southend Hospital’s ‘a family business’

04 July 2018

Health Care

Mother and daughter, Hayley and Charlotte Cross, don’t just look alike and sound alike; they also share the same passion for nursing at Southend Hospital.

And it turns out that working in the NHS and at Southend Hospital has been something of 'a family business' as  Hayley's mum worked  in medical records, her dad worked for the pathology courier service, her aunt was a telephonist, another aunt was a ward clerk and several cousins have had healthcare assistant (HCA) roles. Combined they've had over 116 years' service to Southend Hospital between them.

Hayley Cross, Balmoral Ward manager, said: "I know we aren't the only family to have had several generations work at Southend, but coming up to NHS 70 it is great to recognise that our family and others have played a continuing role in delivering the very best for local patients."

Hayley, 44 from Rayleigh, first started work in the NHS in 1991 on a Youth Training Scheme at Southend Hospital, after taking a break to have children she returned to the Trust as a lab assistant in pathology before embarking on her nurse training in 2010.

Maintaining a part time job in pathology whilst she completed her training at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), Hayley qualified in 2013 and - having worked on Balmoral Ward as part of her student placement - she was drawn back to the surgical ward and hasn't left it since.

During that time she has risen through the ranks of staff nurse to deputy ward manager and ward manager. Hayley said that on the wound management ward she's seen as something of a constant, familiar friendly face for regular patients.

She said: "We call our regular patients our 'frequent flyers', even though we might not see them for a year or two. When I do, they've seen I've moved up and they've said 'we knew you could do it, girl', which is lovely to build that rapport.

"Whilst it is lovely to see regular patients, it is of course sad that they keep having relapses with their wounds but I know the silver lining to that is that a familiar face makes them feel more comfortable and less anxious about the continuity of their care."

Hayley's daughter, Charlotte, aged 24, also decided to embark on a career at Southend Hospital, starting on her first year of nurse training whilst her mum was entering the final year of her degree.

Charlotte, also from Rayleigh, started out working in domestic services aged 17 and harbouring those same ambitions as her mum, became an HCA whilst she completed her nurse training. Qualifying as a staff nurse she worked on Windsor ward and then worked on SAU for a year, her first passion being care for the elderly, and currently she has been seconded to Southborne, a surgical ward in the tower block, as a deputy ward manager.

Charlotte said: "I'm not copying my mum on purpose, honest. When I began my training I originally wanted to be a midwife but then decided that caring for the elderly on Windsor Ward was for me, it's just great meeting all the original cockneys. Fancying a change and the opportunity to progress I moved to a surgical ward and am loving the fast pace."

"You meet some of the most amazing people at Southend Hospital, both patients and staff, and you become best friends with some of the people you work with."

And seeing themselves as Southend Hospital through and through, Charlotte and Hayley don't ever see themselves working at any other hospital than here.

Charlotte said: "I could never see myself moving to a different hospital, I really like Southend. It's so friendly and everyone knows one another. You can't walk down the corridor without saying hello to half a dozen people you know."

Hayley said: "I'm like a stick of rock, if you cut me open I'd read Southend University Hospital all the way through. Well, we are a seaside town!"

Of course NHS 70 on one level will be like any other day, a busy day caring for patients, Charlotte said: "That is our priority, but it will be nice to help celebrate this day on wards with patients and staff, and celebrate 70 years of the NHS on our breaks in the staff room. We are all family here at Southend Hospital.