The Royal Marsden

A day in the life: Security Porter

Lisa Lawrence works as a Security Porter at The Royal Marsden- My son's friend was a patient on Bud Flanagan East Ward about 10 years ago. When I came to visit, I was struck by how caring and helpful all the staff were.

By Royal Marsden | 05 March 2019

It felt like a special place to be and I thought how nice it must be to work here. I joined the Trust a few years later and worked in ward catering before becoming a security porter. There are seven security porters who cover the hospital in Sutton. We share some duties with general porters, such as moving patients in wheelchairs and beds from one part of the hospital to another – but it’s so much more than just transporting people from A to B. I get to know the patients really well and I’m a familiar face when they arrive. I’m also able to see the change in people, from their first day of treatment when they arrive feeling nervous and anxious, to seeing them become more relaxed and at home, through to their last days of treatment.

Ensuring safety

As our job title suggests, we also have security responsibilities. Security porters are often the first responders when there’s an emergency. If someone falls or collapses, I get a resuscitation bag with all the necessary first aid equipment from the nearest critical care room and take it to the scene, where I meet the medical team. We all have mandatory first aid and fire training. We also answer incident calls – if someone has activated the disabled bell in the bathroom, for example, or if a person is causing a disturbance. Recently, I was called to attend to someone who was behaving aggressively. I took him to sit outside on a bench and we talked for half an hour. I found out he was there for his first appointment and was terrified. The next day, he came in and apologised to everyone. While there’s never an excuse for that kind of behaviour, it happens rarely and doesn’t come from a bad place – it’s often caused by anxiety and fear. It could be first-treatment nerves or someone who’s been given bad news. I used to work with children with autism as a learning support assistant, which taught me how to be patient and calm. Throughout the day, I carry out security checks around the hospital. I check that the alarms and access controls are working so that areas such as the Oak Centre for Children and Young People are secure.

A helping hand

I also cover for the dispatch team, which entails taking calls from staff needing a porter. We enter the time of the call, the patient’s name, where they are, where they’re going and how they are travelling, then dispatch the job to a porter. I also help out in the post room when they’re short-staffed, taking deliveries and sorting the letters. Out of hours, we’re responsible for changing over the gas and oxygen cylinders in the manifold room. The switchboard is alerted when the cylinders are running low or there’s a fault, and we’ll then
change them over. We also take oxygen cylinders to the wards when needed and, out of hours, we carry blood samples from the wards to the labs, which is done by healthcare assistants during the day. I can’t walk down a corridor without being stopped by someone
I know. I find my job so rewarding. In four years, I’ve never had two days the same, and The Royal Marsden is the friendliest place I’ve ever worked.

Lisa’s role helps the hospital to run smoothly and safely, and means she gets to know patients and staff