Loyal hospital staff take centre stage at £2.5 million theatre opening

April 2010

Two members of staff enjoyed the limelight when they took centre stage to officially open a new £2.5 million operating theatre at Spire Southampton Hospital on Wednesday 14th April 2010.

New theatre opening, Spire Southampton Hospital

Staff open new £2.5 million operating theatre at Spire Southampton Hospital. Pictured from left to right: Mr Paul Grundy, John Price, Debbie Hutchison and Melvin Robson. 

John Price from Shirley and Debbie Hutchison from Lordswood have both been working at Spire Southampton Hospital in Chalybeate Close for 21 years, where they started as a porter and part time housekeeper. The duo were invited to open the hospital’s fourth theatre in recognition of their commitment, dedication and hard work. Since they joined they have progressed to become fully qualified scrub assistants, supporting some of the country’s leading surgeons.

John first saw the hospital in the late 1980s when he was working for a local garage and went there to deliver a car. He was really impressed so when he saw a recruitment advertisement for a hospital porter he applied and got the job. At around the same time, Debbie started at the hospital doing the ‘twilight shifts’ as a part-time housekeeper. With two young babies to look after, the hours fitted in well with her family life.  

Over the next few years, John and Debbie both progressed their careers learning the necessary skills that are required in a busy theatre environment and moved through the operating department ranks. Both went on to take NVQs level 2 and 3 in operating department and scrub skills, which the hospital funded as part of its staff development scheme. 

John says: “I can’t quite believe that I have gone from being a porter to playing such a crucial role in an operating theatre. We are fortunate to work alongside leading surgeons which gives us the chance to work on a huge range of procedures including brain surgery.” 

Debbie adds: “I’m sure John will agree, it’s thanks to the enormous support from the team at the hospital that we’ve been able to learn so much and been given the chance to gain the necessary practical skills. We’re honored to be officially opening the new fourth theatre.” 

The state-of the-art theatre is part of a £10million development programme at Spire Southampton Hospital, which carries out complex surgery and pioneering techniques including stem cell transplantation and ‘awake’ brain surgery, as well as heart bypasses and innovative spinal procedures. As such, and as part of a dedicated theatre team, John and Debbie play crucial roles in some of the most highly complex and innovative surgical procedures in the UK. 

David Doling, Spire Southampton Hospital’s theatre manager adds: “Our staff work in a highly challenging environment and are involved in a wide range of procedures. Debbie and John’s enthusiasm and hard work has meant that they have become skilled and respected members of the hospital’s busy and experienced operating team. We were delighted to celebrate Debbie and John’s 21 years with them opening our fourth theatre.” 

Also present at the official opening was eminent neurosurgeon, Mr Paul Grundy. Speaking about the new facility, Mr Grundy says: “Modern surgery is intricate and complex and it is important to have up-to-date technology and equipment.  It also helps improve the patient experience, as they can benefit from the best quality of care.  

“Spire Southampton also benefits from a level three critical care unit which is unusual outside of the NHS and provides for greater care and reassurance. The nursing teams are enthusiastic and have invested a great deal of time in learning their skills – it is great that the hospital has asked loyal members of the team to open the new theatre.”

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