'I know they are proud of me': NHS staff kept from their families this Christmas

The Duchess of Cornwall met staff during a visit to the Whittington

The Duchess of Cornwall met staff including specialist nurse Giselle Padmore-Payne (second left) during a visit to the Whittington Hospital in May - Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA

“My children have to wait for me to come home before we can open presents and eat together as a family, but they never complain, and I know they are proud of me.”

These are the words of one nurse, Sena, working at the Whittington Hospital this Christmas.

The Whittington Health Charity has launched a winter appeal, raising funds to ensure staff get the support they need.

A £25 donation would buy a “self-care” gift box, while £50 would pay for a clinical psychologist to run a group session for staff to help them recover from the trauma of working through the pandemic, and £100 will fund the staff lounge with refreshments for a day.

ICU matron Zoe said: “It’s incredibly difficult to be away from our families at Christmas and incredibly difficult to be somewhere often full of sadness – but it is lovely to be able to care for people who need us and especially those without families or visitors at Christmas. It’s difficult, but we’re needed.”

Amir, who is a doctor at the hospital, said: “It is very difficult – we miss our own families and are taking care of people who are fearful and dealing with a combination of physical illness and sadness that they are not at home for Christmas. Doctors are fearful like everyone else at the moment that they risk taking Covid-19 back to their own families.”

Michelle Johnson, chief nurse and director of allied health professionals at Whittington Health NHS Trust, said the hospital benefitted from people's generosity “when the pandemic was at its worst".

"We couldn’t have got through such difficult times without them," she said. "But the pandemic isn’t over, winter is just beginning, and our staff are already working incredibly hard to treat those people who are acutely unwell and those with Covid-19 who need our care as well as trying to treat those waiting for planned procedures as quickly and safely as possible.

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"All the money you give will go towards funding projects that support and thank our staff this Christmas and into the new year.”

People can donate to the appeal online at www.whittingtonhealthcharity.org or they can post donations to Whittington Health Charity, Communications and Fundraising Office, Jenner Building, Whittington Health NHS Trust, Magdala Avenue, London N19 5NF.