Staff helping clear grounds of Northumberland hospital

A group of NHS staff have launched their own clean-up crew at the hospital where they work.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 8:00 am
The clinical coding team who are litter-picking on the Northumbria hospital site, including Lisa Hanson, far right.

And they are hoping their actions will remind staff and visitors not to drop litter.

The litter-pickers have spent the past six weeks cleaning up around the grounds at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital (NSECH) at Cramlington.

Those taking part are Lisa Hanson, Kelly Rutherford, Lindsey Green, Patricia Wasley, Lesley Playle and Sharon Smith, who work in Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s clinical coding team – and are tidying up the grounds off their own backs.

The initiative was launched by Lisa, who joined a litter-picking group in her hometown of Seghill earlier this year, and decided to start collecting rubbish on her walk to work.

She then noticed the litter on the NSECH site, particularly used facemasks – unsurprising given the massive increase in use since the pandemic hit.

“Instead of moaning about it, I thought, why not do something about it?” she said.

“The first time I went out on my lunchbreak, it was just me, then a couple of the girls joined me on the second day and then I contacted the Estates team and they provided equipment for us all as part of World Earth Day on April 22.

“Once we got out and started picking, we realised how much there was.

"We’ve been doing it for a number of weeks now and it’s clear that it’s staff who are dropping litter, not just the public, so I hope this makes them more aware of what they’re doing.

“Everyone’s really enjoying it. It sounds strange but from a mental-health perspective, it feels like you’re doing something useful and taking a break in the fresh air feels good as well.

“We’ve had a lot of people thanking us as well, which is nice and quite a surprise.”

The team’s manager, Steven Henderson, added: “They all just get on with it and do in their own time, on lunchbreaks, so I’m definitely proud of them.”

Clinical coders extract often complex information about a patient’s stay in hospital, from various different sources, and create a summary of everything that’s relevant in a coded format, which is internationally standardised.