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Jo, palliative care nurse specialist


Jo Merritt knew early on in her nursing career that she wanted to specialise in palliative care. She was drawn to the role because of the way it looks at all aspects of a patient’s life, not just their condition.

Now Jo is one of four palliative care nurse specialists at Milton Keynes Hospital. She is based on the Macmillan unit, but can be found in many areas of the hospital.

“We follow the patient, not the ward,” says Jo. “If a patient is admitted to a ward, we will visit them there, if they need to attend a clinic or come into the unit for symptom control, we’re there to support them if needs be.”

Palliative care nurses are clinical nurse specialists who care for people with advanced illness. They are concerned with caring for the patient’s whole needs – not just physical. Jo is one of a tight-knit team which includes colleagues Emma Goodship, Anna Moore, and Wendy Black, They all work closely with Haley Coetzee, our palliative care discharge nurse, who does her utmost to try and ensure that patients spend their final days in their preferred place. They all liaise extensively with specialty doctor Ben Dietsch and consultant Dr Jane Wale.

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Julie, newborn hearing manager and team

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Newborn hearing manager Julie Stones and her team offer a crucial service to new parents, testing their new babies for hearing loss.

At least one in every 900 babies born in the UK will have a permanent childhood hearing impairment that can significantly affect their language and social development. This figure increases to about 1 in every 100 babies who have spent more than 48 hours in intensive care. The majority of these babies are born into families with no experience or history of hearing loss.

Julie and her six staff are always on hand to screen newborns’ hearing before they go home from hospital.

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Debbie and Julia, A&E Receptionists


Receptionists have an essential role as part of Milton Keynes hospital’s frontline staff. They are the first link for many patients who can be in pain, upset or anxious when they arrive.

And the role is even more demanding for the 20 staff who work round the clock in our A&E reception. 

They are a close-knit team who have to use a wide range of skills, from efficient administration, to empathy and understanding when dealing with patients and their relatives.

Audrey Boden, A&E operations co-ordinator, is full of praise for the receptionists.

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Tracey, Falls Prevention Coordinator

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With an ageing population, Milton Keynes Hospital is committed to providing elderly patients with the best care in hospital and a smooth transition to life back at home.

New roles have been created to achieve this, including the addition of a Falls Prevention Coordinator and a Lead Nurse for Dementia.

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Rob, Clinical Skills and Simulation Technician


Providing voiceovers and applying synthetic blood to dummies are just two of the skills Rob Catania has to employ to recreate lifelike medical scenarios for trainee doctors and nurses.

Rob joined Milton Keynes Hospital as a Clinical Skills and Simulation Technician a year ago. In that time he has overseen the installation of audio visual technology in the simulation suite and the opening of a new dental skills centre.

He works alongside Ruth Edwards, Clinical Skills and Simulation Manager, setting up teaching rooms and assisting with training schemes in the postgraduate centre’s simulation suite, as well as in wards across the hospital.

He said: “I’m really happy with how varied my work is. One day I’ll be doing dentistry, the next simulation and the next filming. You wear many hats in this job.”

Five mannequins - Sim Man/Sim Woman, Sim Junior, Sim Baby, Nursing Annie and Medico Kid – are used in simulation exercises. Two are wireless, meaning they can be transported around the hospital.

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Helen, Pathology Support Manager


A love of the TV drama Quincy has led to a career in pathology spanning almost 30 years for Helen Botwood.

Helen has been the Pathology Support Manager at Milton Keynes Hospital for the past ten years, previously working as a biomedical scientist specialising in haematology and blood transfusion.

She heads up the Pathology Support Unit, a team of 33, comprising phlebotomists, clinical support workers and porters.

Helen said: “I originally wanted to be a vet but I needed straight As for that. I was a big fan of Quincy, a forensic pathologist, and my mum’s friend managed to get me work experience at the QE2 Hospital where I saw the biomedical scientists at work. It wasn’t Quincy but it really interested me.”

She qualified as a biomedical scientist while working at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital and then moved to Milton Keynes.

She said: “There are 140 plus people here working in pathology. Our job is to analyse samples – blood, urine, faeces, nail clippings, sputum, tissue – you name it, we’ll analyse it.”

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Mark, Respiratory ANP

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Challenging current theory and practice to enhance patient care is one of the key roles of an Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP).

Mark Baverstock has been a Respiratory ANP at Milton Keynes Hospital since 2007, following eight years as a charge nurse in Accident and Emergency.

As well as assisting junior doctors in managing patients and training newly qualified nurses, his work includes undertaking research into his specialised area.

He said: “As an ANP I have the luxury of focusing in on one area. Whereas the baseline for a doctor is very broad, I am able to focus on lungs 100 per cent of the time and therefore in a lot of detail.

“There isn’t one specific course that teaches you to be an ANP.  It’s about attending a lot of courses to develop your knowledge, looking at new drugs on the market and new guidelines and doing audit work, research and writing articles.”

Mark covers all respiratory cases, from teaching patients how to use inhalers to caring for those in the non-invasive ventilation bay who are acutely unwell with respiratory failure.

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Vanessa, Fundraising manager

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Enabling the people of Milton Keynes to maximise their fundraising efforts for their local hospital is Vanessa Holmes.

Vanessa has been the fundraising manager for Milton Keynes Hospital Charity for the past three years, in which time she has overseen two major fundraising appeals – and recently launched a third for the children’s ward.

Little Lives saw £250,000 raised to refurbish the Neonatal Unit, including the expansion of the cot area and redevelopment of the parents’ living quarters.

More recently A Touch of Pink raised £80,000 to buy a digital x-ray machine for the Breast Unit, improving the experience of patients undergoing procedures to diagnose breast cancer.

Now, with the most recent addition to the fundraising team – the charity mascot, Leo the Lion – Leo’s Appeal is raising £200,000 for the children’s ward.

Vanessa said: “Fundraising appeals are great at getting staff at the hospital and people in the community involved.

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Jon, Lead nurse for practice development

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When Jon was in his early 30s, he was having a successful career in retail. But then he welcomed his first daughter into the world and was inspired to make a life change.

Jon said: “Something in me said ‘I could do something different here’. My work wasn’t completely fulfilling. So I went along to an open day at Milton Keynes Hospital’s Postgraduate Centre – and haven’t looked back since!

“I’ve spent the last 20 years working my way through various clinical and more recently teaching roles. I’ve never left Milton Keynes Hospital. Some people might think that staying in the same place for 20 years means I’m not very adventurous. But the people who know me know that’s not the case! I see it as a positive. I’m an MK nurse through and through.

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Tom, CRS Data Quality Manager


Playing the detective is just one of the roles Tom Allati has to adopt to successfully carry out his job as Data Quality Manager.

Milton Keynes Hospital’s very own Poirot relishes a mystery and thrives on the challenge of identifying a problem and then developing and implementing an effective solution.

Tom said: “I particularly enjoy the complex issues, for example where patient records have become confused or duplicated, or finding out what activity belongs to which patients. It is a detective role and that’s where my skills are.”

Tom began working at Milton Keynes Hospital as a cleaner 15 years ago while studying analytical chemistry at university. He then worked in medical records and was a PA before landing the role of Data Quality Manager six years ago. He has since qualified as an auditor with the support of the Trust.

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