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Jo, palliative care nurse specialist


Jo Merritt knew early on in her nursing career that she wanted to specialise in palliative care. She was drawn to the role because of the way it looks at all aspects of a patient’s life, not just their condition.

Now Jo is one of four palliative care nurse specialists at Milton Keynes Hospital. She is based on the Macmillan unit, but can be found in many areas of the hospital.

“We follow the patient, not the ward,” says Jo. “If a patient is admitted to a ward, we will visit them there, if they need to attend a clinic or come into the unit for symptom control, we’re there to support them if needs be.”

Palliative care nurses are clinical nurse specialists who care for people with advanced illness. They are concerned with caring for the patient’s whole needs – not just physical. Jo is one of a tight-knit team which includes colleagues Emma Goodship, Anna Moore, and Wendy Black, They all work closely with Haley Coetzee, our palliative care discharge nurse, who does her utmost to try and ensure that patients spend their final days in their preferred place. They all liaise extensively with specialty doctor Ben Dietsch and consultant Dr Jane Wale.

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Julie, newborn hearing manager and team

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Newborn hearing manager Julie Stones and her team offer a crucial service to new parents, testing their new babies for hearing loss.

At least one in every 900 babies born in the UK will have a permanent childhood hearing impairment that can significantly affect their language and social development. This figure increases to about 1 in every 100 babies who have spent more than 48 hours in intensive care. The majority of these babies are born into families with no experience or history of hearing loss.

Julie and her six staff are always on hand to screen newborns’ hearing before they go home from hospital.

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Debbie and Julia, A&E Receptionists


Receptionists have an essential role as part of Milton Keynes hospital’s frontline staff. They are the first link for many patients who can be in pain, upset or anxious when they arrive.

And the role is even more demanding for the 20 staff who work round the clock in our A&E reception. 

They are a close-knit team who have to use a wide range of skills, from efficient administration, to empathy and understanding when dealing with patients and their relatives.

Audrey Boden, A&E operations co-ordinator, is full of praise for the receptionists.

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Tracey, Falls Prevention Coordinator

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With an ageing population, Milton Keynes Hospital is committed to providing elderly patients with the best care in hospital and a smooth transition to life back at home.

New roles have been created to achieve this, including the addition of a Falls Prevention Coordinator and a Lead Nurse for Dementia.

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Helen, Pathology Support Manager


A love of the TV drama Quincy has led to a career in pathology spanning almost 30 years for Helen Botwood.

Helen has been the Pathology Support Manager at Milton Keynes Hospital for the past ten years, previously working as a biomedical scientist specialising in haematology and blood transfusion.

She heads up the Pathology Support Unit, a team of 33, comprising phlebotomists, clinical support workers and porters.

Helen said: “I originally wanted to be a vet but I needed straight As for that. I was a big fan of Quincy, a forensic pathologist, and my mum’s friend managed to get me work experience at the QE2 Hospital where I saw the biomedical scientists at work. It wasn’t Quincy but it really interested me.”

She qualified as a biomedical scientist while working at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital and then moved to Milton Keynes.

She said: “There are 140 plus people here working in pathology. Our job is to analyse samples – blood, urine, faeces, nail clippings, sputum, tissue – you name it, we’ll analyse it.”

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Vanessa, Head of Fundraising

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Enabling the people of Milton Keynes to maximise their fundraising efforts for their local hospital is Vanessa Holmes.

Vanessa has been the Head of Fundraising for Milton Keynes Hospital Charity for the past three years, in which time she has overseen two major fundraising appeals – and recently launched a third for the children’s ward.

Little Lives saw £250,000 raised to refurbish the Neonatal Unit, including the expansion of the cot area and redevelopment of the parents’ living quarters.

More recently A Touch of Pink raised £80,000 to buy a digital x-ray machine for the Breast Unit, improving the experience of patients undergoing procedures to diagnose breast cancer.

Now, with the most recent addition to the fundraising team – the charity mascot, Leo the Lion – Leo’s Appeal is raising £200,000 for the children’s ward.

Vanessa said: “Fundraising appeals are great at getting staff at the hospital and people in the community involved.

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Jon, Lead nurse for practice development

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When Jon was in his early 30s, he was having a successful career in retail. But then he welcomed his first daughter into the world and was inspired to make a life change.

Jon said: “Something in me said ‘I could do something different here’. My work wasn’t completely fulfilling. So I went along to an open day at Milton Keynes Hospital’s Postgraduate Centre – and haven’t looked back since!

“I’ve spent the last 20 years working my way through various clinical and more recently teaching roles. I’ve never left Milton Keynes Hospital. Some people might think that staying in the same place for 20 years means I’m not very adventurous. But the people who know me know that’s not the case! I see it as a positive. I’m an MK nurse through and through.

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Kim, Bereavement Officer

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Patients come to Milton Keynes Hospital for many reasons. Often it is about helping patients get better and go back to their normal lives. For some with chronic conditions, it is about easing their pain and symptoms, so they can live as full a life as possible. Sadly some patients are at the end of their lives, and staff do their best to make them as comfortable as possible, and provide emotional support at such a difficult time. But our work doesn't end there. When a patient dies, that's when bereavement officer Kim Weston steps in. 

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