‘We called her Mother Hen - Hospital chief’s tribute to worker in Channel 4 documentary

Queen Elizabeth Hospital CEO Caroline Shaw. Picture: Ian Burt

Queen Elizabeth Hospital CEO Caroline Shaw. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

The chief executive of a Norfolk hospital has spoken candidly about the loss of “the mother hen” of her staff to coronavirus.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has paid tribute to Christine Emerson, who worked as a healthcare assis

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has paid tribute to Christine Emerson, who worked as a healthcare assistant. The mother and grandmother died after contracting coronavirus. Picture: Queen Elizabeth Hospital - Credit: Archant

Last month, Christine Emerson - known as Chrissie - a healthcare assistant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn died after testing positive for Covid-19.

Now, two weeks on from her death a tribute to her was featured in a Channel 4 documentary exploring the impact the global pandemic has had on NHS staff across the country.

NHS Heroes: Fighting To Save Our Lives, was broadcast on the terrestrial channel on Wednesday evening and featured an emotional interview with Caroline Shaw, the hospital’s chief executive.

In it, she described the heartbreaking moment she learned of the experienced health worker’s death and paid tribute to her two decades of hard work for the trust.


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She said: “It was heartbreaking. I had heard about it happening in other hospitals but you just do not believe it would happened in ours. As soon as a staff nurse called to tell me I immediately knew who it was.

“On the day Chrissie passed away the usage of our PPE went up double - I just wasn’t going to call people out for inappropriate use on the day one of our colleagues died.

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“People are extremely nervous about the risk of getting the virus themselves... people need to feel safe.

“We used to call Chrissie Mother Hen - she had been in the trust for 20 years and in that time she saw nurses grow. It is now appropriate that we celebrate the great things that she did.”

In the interview, which was featured alongside various others from NHS staff nationwide, the chief executive also described her own anxiety that has set in since the outbreak began.

She said: “I have had lots of sleepless nights worrying about not having enough intensive care beds, not having enough, PPE , not having enough staff. In my 36 year career I have never heard of that before.

“On the days in particular when something not good happens you can sense it when you walk in the door...what the day is going to be like.

“It’s horrible, you just feel responsible for why that person is in intensive care. This is a marathon, it’s not going to finish overnight but it is a job I’m passionate about and one I want to do.”

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