When I first started I didn’t understand what they were talking about in a way, so I had to kind of get a bit of help, I had to learn I didn’t even know what contractions and all that was.
My name is Fred Kirk and I’m a Customer Care Receptionist on the maternity unit at Guy’s and St Thomas’. I discharge people, book appointments, I just basically need to make sure the right people are in the right place. If family members or friends turn up I need to show people were to go, see if they can go in, see if they can’t. I also have to do midwife forms, so the midwives don’t have to do it. We do a bit of admin work as well. To be honest, it’s different every day: I don’t know who’s going to come in so it’s quite interesting and even though I’ve done the same thing in way, every day, it’s different. You get some people that are nice that come in. You get people with all different languages, different religions, so it can be hard work but it is interesting to meet so many different people. It’s quite fun in the end.
I knew I wanted to work in something to do with business admin and that’s what my apprenticeship was. Every Friday, I use to go to the college in the building, basically just outside, with a couple of other people doing apprenticeships in the same hospital and we’d do a Business Admin Level 2 NVQ I think it was, and we’d do English and Maths and other stuff, just recap and do a little exam, a little BTEC exam just to get some more qualifications – whilst we get paid to do it.
You just need to be calm, you got to be a good timekeeper as well, just because in a hospital things need to be done by a certain time just for safety reasons. Probably the most important thing is just to treat everybody the same, trying to use standard English, no complex words (not that I was going to use any anyway!) but just try to narrow things down as easily as possible, because sometimes what the doctors can say words that people have never heard of, so just try to write things down as easily as possible for people.
We just got to treat everyone the same, and just be kind to everyone. I know there is loads of career paths I can take if I want to stay here, and our managers and other staff encourage us to do it. The training is not actually in the hospital; it’s where we can go and train, get higher jobs and learn new skills.
Since I’ve been here, I personally made the jump from Apprentice to full-time worker, and there has been people who’ve been band 2 with me, and who are now band 3 or 4 in this department. I’m probably one of the longest remaining staff in a way and I’ve only been here 2 years, just because people have been working their way up since I’ve joined. So they do encourage us to try and make further steps up and make jumps that we didn’t think we could do.
The coolest thing I’ve probably done is work my way up in a way, from Apprentice to actually working here full-time. The skills I’m learning now, I can take and get a job anywhere.
A few words from Fred...
I work as part of the Customer Care team in the maternity unit at St Thomas’ Hospital. Hundreds and hundreds of babies are born here every year so I’m kept really busy, admitting and discharging patients, keeping a track of who’s going in and out of the unit and doing a wide range of different admin tasks. I do shift work. The shifts last for 12-hour shifts, but I only work for 3 days of the week.
Exciting aspects of Fred's job
Every day is different – with new faces arriving all the time (literally!).
I work on 3 different desks, which makes the job more varied and interesting.
I do shift work, which means although I have a full-time job, I have 4 days of the week to myself.
Working in the maternity ward in a busy London hospital, I get to meet people from many different cultures.
It’s a really unique environment – working in admin in a hospital you get to learn skills you wouldn’t learn anywhere else.
You definitely need to be able to multi-task, because there are often a million things to do at once, including lots of records that need updating all the time. When someone’s in labour, it can be a stressful time for families, so you also have to be good at dealing with confrontation and helping to keep everyone calm, whilst maintaining professionalism at all times.
- GCSEs Media Studies, English Lit, English Language, PE, Maths, Sociology