3 July 2023

Praise for colleagues after hospital worker becomes patient whilst on shift

Gemma Aktekin, aged 41, found herself becoming a patient after having a stroke whilst on shift at the Northern General Hospital in January 2023. The mum of three was carrying out her duties as Operational Business Manager in Active Recovery when she was found mid stroke by colleagues Joanne Thornhill and Louise Pledger who called for an ambulance.

Gemma said: “My colleagues switched from my team mates to my nurses in an instant, they treated me with the same dignity they give our patients and it was clear that all the team really care about people and their experiences. When I became a patient, I saw what makes the NHS great from more than just a staff perspective.

After her immediate care, Gemma was taken across the city to the specialist stroke centre at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital which is also part of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Gemma’s daughter Natalya works at the hospital as a Medical Laboratory Assistant, and was able to visit her.

Gemma said: “At the Royal Hallamshire it was confirmed I had suffered a right cerebellar stroke caused by a vertebral artery dissection. Initially my right side was affected as was my swallowing and memory.

After discharge I was released into the care of a great community stroke nurse called Caitlin. With all sorts of assistance from various professionals including a stroke psychotherapist for my mental health and our occupational health team for assisting with a phased return, I am now working short days each week.

The thing that mattered to me specifically was that I asked them to make sure I understood every time we had a conversation. It's easy to think, "Oh, she works here, so she must know what that means," but that's not always the case, so I can honestly say my care and treatment have felt tailored to my needs because of this.

This attitude was then continued throughout my absence from work with my line manager Tina Hammond and all my colleagues who granted me space and gave me no pressure to return to work sooner than I was able to.

I genuinely believe that every aspect of my recovery has been improved by the people around me, from the immediate response at the time of my stroke to the community aftercare, and the management team for tailoring a return to work to fit my needs.

I won't be the first or the last STH employee to become a patient within a blink of an eye, but it's important and it matters that you are treated like a patient as well as involved with your healthcare.”




Pictured: Gemma two days after having a stroke and three months post stroke.


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