Meet the night shift stars at Barnet Hospital 

While most of Barnet sleeps, the Barnet Hospital night shift are working hard

A person stands on a hospital ward
Isaac Donkir

While most of us are checking our front doors, switching off the lights and making ourselves a warm drink before bed, the night shift at Barnet Hospital are already at work for another night.

Issac Donkir is Barnet Hospital’s Medirest night duty manager, responsible for the domestic, portering and catering services at night. 

“There’s no less pressure because we’ve got less staff so it’s less easy to reallocate people,” he explained. “The expectation is to turn beds around fast, with a deep clean, because of the heavy demand. Sometimes I’ll step in and support to help get the job done.” 

Issac started as a domestic assistant and has worked for the past four years on nights in his current role. He said: “You develop a real bond with the people that do this job at night. I’ve built the best team who I can rely on 100%. They will step in if someone is off sick and they’ll always go the extra mile. I don’t call them my colleagues, I call them family.” 

Darren Walker is the band 7 nurse in charge for the night shift at Barnet Hospital’s Emergency Department. He’s happy 27 out of the 28 nursing staff are available tonight. 

He said: “Staffing has been good this past week and the skill mix is strong as well. Tonight feels manageable. Last night we had 202 patients and the department was only built to see 80 but by the end of the night there was only a one hour wait to be seen by a doctor. That’s because beds were available in the hospital. That’s what counts. 

“All of us are excited about the expansion of our urgent and emergency care. It’s going to make a huge difference in experience for staff and patients. It should help us ease the bottlenecks.” 

Also on the main desk in Barnet Hospital ED is Sue Reuter whose main role is to record admissions in a timely and accurate way. 

Sue said: “Working nights suits me because I care for my elderly mother. I worked for the Metropolitan Police for 37 years before I got made redundant and worked for M&S for a couple of years but it wasn’t for me. I wondered who would employ me at 59, but here I am five years later. As well as admissions I also answer calls from relatives and liaise with nursing staff. It’s challenging but I enjoy what I do.” 

A person in hospital scrubs sits on an exercise ball in a hospital room
Martina Zara

Martina Zara, a midwife in the delivery suite, admits it’s her daschund Camilla who calls the shots. She said: “I work mostly nights because Camilla is fine left alone then but doesn’t do so well without me during the day.” 

Even though no elective caesareans are scheduled at night the ward is still busy. Martina said: “We get a lot of walk-ins, everything from reduced foetal movement, or bleeding, or abnormal cramping. Or our ante or postnatal ladies could have a whole host of issues from uncontrolled blood sugars, low blood pressure… or the baby being on the small side. We are here for it all.”

Yasmin Almond is the staff nurse in charge of paediatrics tonight. Parents and children continually come forward to quiz her about wait times to see the doctor and access to pain relief but Yasmin handles the pressure gracefully. 

“Tonight the wait time is about two-and-a-half hours so that’s not so bad but it can be much longer and that’s not easy for any of us to deal with,” she acknowledged. 

Rebecca Roft, a midwife working in the BH birth centre, chooses to work more nights then days. “I like the autonomy,” she admits. “I always wanted to work in healthcare but my mum’s a nurse and I don’t see midwifery as similar. I didn’t want to look after sick or dying people. As a midwife I feel I’ve got a bit more say in the care of my patient.”  

A person drives a floor cleaning machine through a hospital corridor
Lydio Gloria

You can’t miss Lydio Gloria. At night you’ll find him cleaning the corridors of Barnet Hospital on his scrubber dryer machine. 

The enormous footfall the hospital experiences means Lydio spends a great deal of his time perched on the machine. 

Lydio said: “I take pride in keeping the hospital clean and getting it ready for each new day. It’s second nature.” 

Beatrice Ubeng, one of the dedicated domestics for the area, mops the length of a corridor where a woman’s waters have broken while she was being wheeled by trolley into a delivery room. It’s all in a night’s work for Beatrice who joined the trust in 2017 but has only been working nights a year. “I’m finding it tough, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it,” she said with a wry chuckle. 

Shortly afterwards the woman’s screams subside and give way to the loud cries of a newborn baby. Despite how many countless times they’ve heard this noise everyone still smiles. Even in the small hours of the night life goes on.

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