As much as some people can’t bear to watch them, I’ve always had a particular interest in hospital programmes. After watching BBC2’s Hospital documentary in January 2019, I got in touch with Royal Liverpool University Hospital (RLUH) CEO Aidan Kehoe via LinkedIn, to ask if it would be possible to use my five days’ volunteering leave there. Even though we hadn’t connected on LinkedIn at this point, and I was a complete stranger to him, he responded the very next morning.
After a few months of organisation, I was lucky enough to spend five days at the RLUH in May.
Being in an office role within the Health Improvement Directorate at Public Health England, I chose to use my five days’ volunteering leave to go on to the frontline of the healthcare industry to see what the day-to-day running of a hospital would be like.
During my time at the RLUH, I spent time variously shadowing and assisting healthcare assistants, nurses, doctors, surgeons, pharmacists, consultants and administration staff. They were based in different parts of the hospital, including Accident & Emergency, the Acute Medical Unit, operating theatres, the Post-operative Critical Care Unit, the High-Dependency Unit, Intensive Care, Endoscopy, Patient Flow, pharmacy, digital, IT and back-of-house operations. I was able to attend and observe several live surgeries. Each day was eye-opening and made me appreciate the skill and dedication of the teams I saw in action. I would never know what to expect, let alone who would walk through the doors at any given time.
I can’t express enough how incredible the RLUH is. I learnt so much about our UK health system, the day-to-day running of a real-life hospital, and the workings of the human body. If anyone else is thinking of making use of their volunteering leave in this way, I’d highly recommend it. The experience was rather surreal, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and one I’ll never forget.
Every civil servant has an amount of ‘special leave’ they can take each year to undertake activities such as participating in public duties and volunteering. I’d strongly suggest looking into this opportunity in your department or agency – in whatever field interests or inspires you.