It can be confusing to work out who does what in any hospital – at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) we have over 4000 members of staff and over 1000 volunteers! This page introduces some of the people you could meet when you come to GOSH.
All the doctors at GOSH have completed their initial medical school training that lasts five years and then two foundation years training after that. They come to GOSH having decided that they want to work with children and young people and become a paediatrician (specialist children’s doctor).
Doctors can belong to a Royal College which offers additional training in specific areas. There are lots of Royal Colleges but the main ones for GOSH medical staff include the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), Royal College of Anaesthetists (ROA) and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). Most doctors at GOSH will be a member of one of these (or maybe two or more) so they can have lots of letters after their name!
Doctors work in clinical specialties – that is, teams of people who are all expert in a particular area of medicine or surgery. There are over 60 different specialties at GOSH and most work in Multidisciplinary Teams (MDTs) made up of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.
There are different grades or levels of doctor within each team:
- Professor – This is a senior and experienced doctor who carries out academic research work in a University as well as, or instead of, clinical work with patients.
- Consultant – These are the senior doctors in charge of a team within a specialty. They will have done at least six years of specialist training on top of their medical school and foundation training.
- Junior Doctors – Despite the name, most junior doctors have many years’ experience and may be called Registrars or Specialist Registrars. If they are on a specific specialty training programme they are often graded ST or CT years 1 to 8 – ST stands for specialty training and CT for core training. Other doctors who are not on training programmes as known as Fellows or Trust Doctors.
There are about 1500 nurses working at GOSH, alongside the doctors, allied health professionals and other members of staff.
Members of the senior nursing management team wear a blue tunic with red piping and include the Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Nurse and Director of Nursing Operations, who are responsible for overall nursing standards at GOSH. Each Division has a Head of Nursing and Patient Experience and they are supported by Matrons.
Matrons who oversee a number of wards wear a navy blue tunic with white piping. They are experienced nurses who have expertise in certain clinical specialties as well as more general management experience. Their role is to support nursing staff, helping them to deliver the safest and best patient and family experience possible.
Ward Managers (also called Ward Sister for females or Charge Nurse for males) are responsible for the day to day running of each ward. They wear a royal blue tunic. They have many years’ experience of managing a service so should be your first point of contact if you have any questions about the ward or your child’s care.
For each shift on every ward there is a ‘nurse in charge’ – this may be the Ward Manager or it could be a Senior Staff Nurse. There are posters on display in every ward showing the name of the ‘nurse in charge’ of the current shift.
Senior Staff Nurses are experienced bedside nurses, many of whom have undertaken extra training in their clinical specialty. They may supervise more junior members of the team or student nurses on placement on the ward. Senior Staff Nurses wear a mid-blue tunic with navy piping.
Staff Nurses are the junior members of the ward nursing team – usually either newly qualified as a Registered Nurse or with one to two years of experience. Staff Nurses wear a light blue tunic with navy blue piping.
When newly qualified Staff Nurses join GOSH, they have a number of placements on different wards so that they can find out which clinical specialty interests them most. They also have a senior member of staff acting as their ‘mentor’, helping them get used to the responsibility of being a qualified nurse and improving their practical skills.
A Nurse Associate is a new member of the nursing team, having recently been introduced in England. The nurse associate bridges the gap between healthcare support workers, healthcare assistants and registered nurses to deliver hands on, patient centred care as part of the nursing team. Nurse associates will have undertaken a two year training programme, incorporating a mix of practical ward based learning and theoretical evidence based knowledge.
We also have student nurses on placement, mainly from London South Bank University, so they can gain practical experience of working on a ward while they are taking their degree course. They wear a white tunic with the university name embroidered on it. Student nurses are always under the supervision of a qualified nurse.
As well as our ward-based nurses, we also have a number of Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) working within each Clinical Specialty. They wear a royal blue tunic with white piping.
Advanced Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Consultants are the most senior clinical nurses at GOSH and have completed additional training and education. They carry out various tasks that in the past might have been done by doctors, such as clerking and assessment or prescribing medicines.
Other ward or clinic staff
Play Specialists help children and young people prepare for treatment and surgery or help distract them while it is happening using techniques such as role play, drawing and practising procedures. They can help families explain complicated illnesses or treatment in a way the child can understand.
Our Play Specialists wear a dark purple polo shirt with Play Specialist embroidered on it. They have all completed the Hospital Play Specialist two-year foundation degree and many will also hold additional qualifications in Child Care.
Play Workers support every child’s right to play, by providing lots of fun activities tailored to the interests of each child. They are based on wards and clinic areas to supervise the play areas and lead activities for children and young people.
Our Play Workers wear a lilac polo shirt with Play Worker embroidered on it. They all have qualifications in child development and play-related subjects.
Healthcare Assistants or Clinic Assistants work in most departments and clinics at GOSH and support the nursing staff in a variety of ways, such as taking observations, helping with personal care such as washing or eating, or ordering supplies. They wear a light green tunic with navy blue piping.
Healthcare or Clinic Assistants may have completed training or apprenticeships and others may be gaining experience before going onto further training, in nursing or medicine for instance.
Senior Healthcare Assistants or Clinic Assistants often have a great deal of experience and may specialise in particular areas such as surgery or medicine. They will usually have a qualification such as a BTEC or NVQ or be working towards one. They wear a darker green tunic with navy blue piping.
Phlebotomists collect blood samples from patients for testing in our laboratory. They have received on the job training not only in the technical aspects of taking blood samples but also ways of putting children and young people at ease and helping deal with any fears or worries.
Ward Housekeepers are responsible for making sure the ward is comfortable, clean and has all the supplies needed to run safely. The Ward Housekeeper is usually the person who talks to children and young people about meal options, orders food and then helps to serve it up at mealtimes. They can usually tell you all about the hospital and helpful people to talk to or places to go.
We have lots of domestic cleaners working at GOSH to keep everything clean and safe. Each ward or department has at least one domestic cleaning several times a day and there is a team that are responsible for public areas such as main reception and the toilets. You can recognise our domestic cleaners by their navy blue polo shirts or turquoise tunics with OCS (the cleaning company) embroidered on the front.
Allied Health Professionals
Physiotherapists work with children and young people to help with physical problems affecting movement. They work as part of the ward team or throughout the wider Clinical Specialty. They wear a light blue polo shirt.
Many of our physiotherapists are highly specialised and have undertaken specialist training on top of their clinical training. They may also be involved in research projects throughout the hospital or with other organisations.
Occupational therapists help children and young people to carry out everyday tasks such as washing, dressing and managing every day activities when someone finds things difficult or after they have been ill. They are usually linked to a Clinical Specialty and wear a white tunic with green trim, and blue trousers.
They are also highly specialised with lots of training and experience in particular areas, such as hand therapy, seating or helping children with their development. They can also advise on equipment to use at home to make tasks easier and help with going home after being in hospital.
Psychologists help children and young people with a wide range of mental and emotional problems, such as adapting to life changes, dealing with long term conditions, coping with stressful situations or addressing particular problems. They do not wear a uniform – just their everyday clothes. They usually work with a number of wards, advising on psychological needs and working with individual children and young people and their families as required.
Dietitians use detailed knowledge about food and nutrition to advise children and young people about what they eat and drink. They are often a key member of the Multidisciplinary Team as many conditions treated at GOSH can be controlled or improved to a degree with specialised diets or supplements.
They wear everyday clothes rather than a uniform. They are often based within a Clinical Specialty so have highly specialised knowledge and experience. All our dietitians have an undergraduate degree in dietetics as well as professional qualifications with the British Dietetic Association.
Healthcare Scientists use the latest technology to help diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions. There are lots of different types of healthcare scientists including our laboratory scientists, physiologists and biomedical scientists. They may wear everyday clothes often with a white laboratory coat over the top if they work in our labs.
Pharmacists work as part of the clinical team. They are responsible for ensuring that correct medicines are prescribed, devising and supervising treatment plans for patients and providing information about medicines to staff and patients.
Our pharmacists have studied a four-year course to get a Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) qualification. Following this, they complete 12 months pre-registration training in a community or hospital pharmacy or in industry. Finally, they have to pass the examination to register with the General Pharmaceutical Council.
Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) work with children and young people who have complex difficulties with communication, or with eating, drinking and swallowing.
They are often based within a Clinical Specialty so have highly specialised knowledge and experience. All our SLTs have an undergraduate degree as well as postgraduate qualifications alongside professional qualifications with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy (RCSLT). They wear everyday clothes rather than a uniform. They are registered members of the Health Professions Council.
Our Theatre staff look after children and young people all the time they are in the operating theatre. Theatre nurses support the surgeons and anaesthetists during operations as well as look after children and young people when they are in the Recovery Area waking up from an anaesthetic. Many of our theatre nurses specialise in one type of surgery, for instance, orthopaedic surgery, but others have a more general management role.
Operating Department Practitioners also play an important role in Theatres, making sure that all the equipment needed for an operation is ready and waiting for the surgeon. They also help the anaesthetist get the anaesthetic medicine ready as well as any other medicines that might be needed.
During the operation they act as the link between the Operating Theatre and the rest of the hospital, telling the Recovery Area when to expect a patient and calling for the next patient to be brought from the ward.
Other members of staff
Chaplains offer spiritual care and support to children, young people, families and staff, whether or not they have a faith or religion. The Chaplaincy team has representatives of most major faiths visiting regularly and other people can be called in as and when required.
Social Workers help people to deal with practical, emotional or financial problems and work with other organisations to support families in hospital and at home.
All social workers have to have a degree in social work or a postgraduate diploma in social work. The social workers at GOSH are employed by London Borough of Camden but are based full time in the hospital. Some are attached to specialty teams so build up a detailed knowledge of how a particular condition impacts on daily life.
Ward Administrators ensure the administrative side of patient care is completed safely and effectively. This might involve sending out letters or information, supporting clinical staff with admin tasks and general keeping the ward running smoothly.
Our reception staff are based at the front desk of the hospital itself as well as in each clinic area and departments such as Radiology. They are often the first person you will meet at GOSH and are a great source of information. As well as booking your child into a clinic, they will ask you to confirm that the information we hold is up to date and may also you to fill in some forms.
Each clinical specialty has a Service Manager who is responsible for ensuring everything runs smoothly, budgets are balanced and targets are met. They may have had a clinical role before moving into management but others work in a variety of administration roles before progressing to managing a service.
Portering staff have a wide ranging role involving collection and delivery of various items including medical gases, post and parcels, equipment and samples.
Most importantly, they are the people who will move your child between departments, for instance, if they need to go to the operating theatre or for a scan or test. You can recognise our porters by the bright blue polo shirts with ‘portering’ embroidered on the back.
The Works team are responsible for keeping our hospital buildings in good working and decorative order. There are various roles within the team, including painters, plumbers, carpenters and electricians. As well as updating departments on a regular basis, they respond to emergencies and also work with the wider Estates team to make sure new wards and departments are bright and welcoming.
The Security staff at GOSH are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. They patrol all areas of the hospital site to check that everything is safe and secure but also respond to emergencies such as a fire alarm going off. They wear white shirts with OCS (the security company) embroidered on it.
Our Supplies staff are in charge of receiving deliveries into GOSH and then making sure they are taken to the right area. You might see them moving boxes and crates around the hospital – they wear a grey polo shirt with ‘supply chain operative’ embroidered on the back.
Our volunteers are an important part of hospital life – we have over 1000 volunteers who give up their free time to help out at GOSH. They work alongside hospital staff to provide a range of services and activities to children, young people and families to improve their quality of life during their stay at GOSH.
This could be in main reception helping people to find their way around or based on a ward supporting parents and giving them a break. You can recognise our volunteers by their gold coloured polo shirts with ‘here to help’ on the back.