8 March 2021

Monday 8 March 2021 is International Women’s Day. The theme within the NHS this year is ‘everyday courage’ in tribute to the courage being demonstrated by women in health and care during the past 12 months.

We caught up with a number of strong, talented women who work in different areas of our organisation – plus one of our patients - about the courage they have shown during the coronavirus pandemic.


Joyce, Radiographer

A woman in blue scrubs wearing a mask.Joyce came to the UK from Nigeria in August 2020. After two weeks of quarantine she was ready to start a new role as a radiographer at Royal Papworth Hospital.

“I was nervous about coming to a new place and starting a new role during the pandemic but my team has been supportive and I’m happy to play my part in caring for patients.”


Reef, Arrhythmia Nurse Specialist

Reef-web.jpgReef returned to work in March 2020 after maternity leave, just as the coronavirus pandemic was declared.  A specialist arrhythmia nurse, she volunteered to work with COVID-19 patients in critical care.

“It was incredibly daunting as I hadn’t worked in critical care before. It was a steep and emotional learning curve but in the end I truly enjoyed it.”



Jennifer, Acting Deputy Chief Nurse

Jennifer-web.jpgJennifer joined Royal Papworth Hospital as head of respiratory nursing in March 2020 and was promoted to acting deputy chief nurse in September last year.

Quickly adapting to her new role in the middle of the pandemic, she has shown calm and compassionate leadership and always takes the time to listen to staff and speak up on their behalf.



Sophie, Senior Clinical Coding Lead and LGBT+ Network Co-chair

Sophie-web.jpgSophie works hard to raise awareness of issues faced by the LGBT+ community and speaks passionately about equal rights.

Her courage and passion in speaking-up inspires her colleagues and helps us to build a strong, inclusive workplace.




Marilyn, Acting Service Lead for Dietetics and Speech and Language Therapy

A woman smiling.Dietitian Marilyn took on a new role as service lead for dietetics and speech and language therapy in the autumn of 2020, just before the busy winter season.

She has shown courage in adapting the service to meet the changing needs of our patients and supporting her team, many of whom were working additional shifts to support our critical care during the second COVID-19 wave.


Vera, Senior Clinical Engineer

A woman in a burgundy uniform wearing a mask.Vera specialises in the repair and maintenance of haemofiltration machines, a vital piece of equipment for many patients in critical care including those with COVID-19.

“I was very nervous about going onto the COVID-19 wards at first, but I told myself I have to do it, it’s my job. I’m proud I have played my part in the pandemic.”

Vera’s family live in Portugal and she hasn’t seen them since last summer. “It’s difficult not knowing when I will be able to see them again. I hope it’s not too much longer.”

Jo, Nurse Consultant for ECMO and Critical Care

Jo-web.jpgJo is a courageous nursing leader, steering our critical care team through a very challenging time caring for the sickest COVID-19 patients who require the highest level of support.

Her role in the national ECMO network has been invaluable, with demand for the service reaching numbers never seen before in England. Normally at Royal Papworth Hospital we would have three ECMO patients at any one time, but this peaked at 24 in early 2021.


Anie, Lead Nurse for Pulmonary Endarterectomy

A woman smiles.Anie is our lead clinical nurse specialist for the national pulmonary endarterectomy service at Royal Papworth Hospital but has had to shield because she is clinically vulnerable.

“It is very hard having to shield when you’re a nurse and your natural instinct is to look after people.”

However, Anie has been working from home communicating and co-ordinating patient care. She remained a key part of our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Network and has spoken up about her decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine to encourage others to do the same.


Erica, cystic fibrosis patient


Erica became seriously ill when she contracted COVID-19 despite shielding for most of 2020. She was rushed to Royal Papworth Hospital from her home in Southend and feared she would not survive.

“The thought of not seeing my partner Ben, our dog Ronnie and our family and friends made me push myself and my body even more to try and recover.”

Erica spoke to national media outlets from her hospital bed to warn other people of the dangers of COVID-19 and ask people to take social distancing guidance seriously. 


Eilish, Chief Operating Officer


Eilish has displayed everyday courage throughout the pandemic, showing calm leadership through our ‘command and control centre’ which has tackled head-on the challenges that COVID-19 has brought to the hospital.

She is capable, kind and manages to keep smiling no matter how busy she is.


Gerrie, Disability Network Chair


Gerrie is chair of our disability network, which she does alongside her job while also juggling childcare and a husband who works on the front line.

During the pandemic she has spent what spare time she has making scrubs out of duvet covers which she has donated to the NHS.


Catherine, Arrythmia Nurse Specialist


Even a pandemic does not slow Catherine down. Today she is helping to perform a heart procedure for six patients who are under our care but being treated in another hospital.

Her commitment to best patient care is reflected in the courage to take that care directly to the patient, even when this is outside Royal Papworth’s walls.