Pair praised for hard work during hospital ‘incident’


Two staff at the Eastbourne District General Hospital were praised for dealing with a ‘telephone switchboard incident’ in January - when the hospital was particularly busy.

Michelle Clements, facilities manager and Emma Watson, night data input clerk, were the recipients of a monthly staff award for their calmness in dealing with the incident at Eastbourne DGH.

They received the award after the telephone lines at the hospital went down, meaning no incoming calls could be taken.

The pair dealt with the overnight situation ‘calmly’ and ‘professionally’ until the incident was resolved.

They were presented with an award by The East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust chairman Stuart Welling earlier this month.

Late one Friday night in January there was a fault on an external BT exchange network, remote from Eastbourne District General Hospital.

This affected the hospital switchboard with virtually no incoming calls to the hospital.

Michelle Clements came in to work to deal with the situation and she was ably assisted by Emma Watson, the trust said.

Jane Gorringe, the facilities manager nominated Michelle and Emma after dealing with the incident.

She said, “Michelle came on duty at midnight following a call despite having worked all day.

“She stayed throughout the night and into most of Saturday dealing with the situation with little sleep or food at all.

“Emma who generally mans and monitors the alarms on site supported Michelle by manning and opening the switchboard once they got the basic line working.

“Emma is not a trained switchboard operator and has only had very basic training undertaken for a few hours.

“Despite this she was able to take calls calmly and pass on messages using her own personal mobile throughout the night supporting Michelle who was running getting mobile calls and passing them on.

“Throughout the night they both had no breaks at all and continued to ensure basic communication was maintained in a very difficult situation they remained calm and the situation was dealt with very professionally by both.

“They worked beyond their duties and should be recognised for their contribution.”

A trust spokesman said during this incident patients in the hospital were safe and not at any risk as internal calls within the hospital were working along with the bleep system.

The fault was finally resolved by BT early Saturday evening.

The East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust gives a staff award each month to staff who have gone above and beyond their duties.

This includes staff from hospitals across the trust including the Eastbourne DGH, The Conquest, and community hospitals in Bexhill, Crowborough, Lewes, Rye and Uckfield.