The first impression that most people have of hospital is usually based on encounters with receptionists or appointment booking teams, so their attitude is hugely important.
In the monthly awards for staff at Basildon and Orsett hospitals, representatives from these departments were commended for going out of their way to help patients.
Carole Butterworth, a receptionist who works in the outpatient department in both hospitals, was named employee of the month. She was nominated by a patient who wished to remain anonymous, but described how Carole had helped after a mistake had been made with an appointment.
The patient said: "I was slightly annoyed, but after the help I received, it cheered me up a lot. Carole went completely out of her way to fit me into another clinic and ensured I was kept informed as she ran round the hospital looking for the doctor."
Clare Panniker, Chief Executive, presented Carole with her prize, saying: "Sometimes it is the small things that make a massive difference; you could just shrug and say sorry, or really try and help, as you did."
The Patient Access Team, who book appointments, were named as team of the month. They were nominated by a colleague for coping admirably under intense pressure, and adjusting to a new computer system. David Partridge, Principal Finance Manager, said: "I feel they are unsung heroes."
Ella Jolly, Christina Wheatley and Lisa Hedgecock accepted the award on behalf of their colleagues. Lisa, Operational Manager, said: "We are the first port of call at the Trust, and patients may be worried about why their GP is referring them to hospital. That is why it is very important that we are compassionate, calm and helpful."
Clare Panniker congratulated the team, saying: "I am glad you were nominated as you are one of a number of teams in the Trust who have really pulled out all the stops recently, coping with the introduction of new computer systems. It is only right that you get recognition for your hard work and efforts to make sure that things continue to run smoothly for our patients."
Photo: L-R Lisa Hedgecock; Christina Wheatley; Carole Butterworth; Ella Jolly; Clare Panniker