International Nurses Day: Suffolk nurses share their Covid experiences

Archie Libero, who is an endoscopy staff nurse, Molly Ashworth, a student nurse and Dan Spooner, who is deputy chief nurse.

Archie Libero, who is an endoscopy staff nurse, Molly Ashworth, a student nurse and Dan Spooner, who is deputy chief nurse. All three work at West Suffolk Hospital. - Credit: West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Nurses from a Suffolk hospital have spoken of what attracted them to the profession and their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic to mark International Nurses Day.

The nurses, who work in a variety of roles at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, came to the profession at different points in their lives and for different reasons, but have all worked throughout the pandemic.

'It made me appreciate the NHS even more'

At just 20-years-old, Molly Ashworth, a student nurse from Eye, has balanced working full-time with studying.

She said: “I wanted to become a paediatric nurse as I enjoy being able to support children and their families during what may be a distressing time and make a difference to their lives.

Molly Ashworth, student nurse at West Suffolk Hospital and University of Suffolk.
International Nurs

Molly Ashworth, student nurse at West Suffolk Hospital and University of Suffolk. - Credit: West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust


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“The most challenging part of my job currently is balancing my university work along with working full time hours at the Trust for my placement, but it is all worth it. I love meeting new people and having conversations with the children I am looking after and their families.

“I wasn't able to work at the hospital during the first wave of the pandemic because my university pulled first year students out of practice, so I worked at a local nursing home to support them instead.

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"However, I was back working through the second wave from December to February, which was hard but I am pleased I was able to help on the frontline throughout.

“It made me appreciate the NHS even more.”

'Overwhelming, frustrating, emotional, inspiring, humbling'

Dan Spooner, who lives near Saffron Walden, is deputy chief nurse at West Suffolk Hospital.

Mr Spooner said his parents working in a hospital, along with a desire to make a difference, drew him to nursing.

Daniel Spooner, deputy chief nurse at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.International Nurses Day 20

Daniel Spooner, deputy chief nurse at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. - Credit: West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

He said: "My parents both worked in hospital settings in various roles and it always sounded like a fascinating world. Nursing was a logical step for me.

“My clinical career has predominantly been in emergency care and it ticked every box for me: fast-paced, reactive, and really quite visceral. Not for the faint hearted, but essential for the kind hearted.

"The job gives me a sense that I am positively giving something back to society. While that’s a little deep, I also love the difference we as nurses make to our patient’s experience at some of the hardest moments in their life."

That has especially been the case during the pandemic.

He added: “It has been overwhelming, frustrating, emotional, inspiring, humbling. There are never enough hours in the day and it can be difficult keeping the work life balance in check.

“You really do have to look after yourself to look after others.”

'My inspiration has always been my mum'

Archie Libero, who is an endoscopy staff nurse, also followed a parent into the medical field, but that has not made it an easy path to take.

She moved to the UK from the Philippines and at first was unable to qualify as a nurse despite having finished her university nursing qualification.

Archie Libero, endoscopy staff nurse at West Suffolk Hospital.
International Nurses Day 2021.

Archie Libero, endoscopy staff nurse at West Suffolk Hospital. - Credit: West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

She said: "Despite this I continued to work in healthcare.

"I worked in a dementia care home as a carer, then a team leader for three years until I got a job in West Suffolk Hospital endoscopy unit as a senior endoscopy assistant.

“It was a very long process but the experience, skills and knowledge I have gained through the years has been invaluable to me in providing the best quality and safest care for my patients.

“My inspiration has always been my mum. I’ve always admired her knowledge about human health and her compassion for people.

“The nursing profession is extremely rewarding, knowing that we are making a difference to people’s lives. I like how every day is different. I love how I can help a patient get through their day, but it can also be very tough mentally, physically and emotionally.

“In early 2020 I got moved to help on the winter escalation ward that was only meant to open until March, but we had to extend due to the pandemic.

"We were one of the few wards left looking after the rest of the patients coming in because most of the wards became Covid wards.

“There was also a lot of anxiety because staff were also getting ill. Working through my dissertation and assignments while working full time, it was a stressful time but also definitely a learning experience.”

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