5 Important Things to Know Before Working at The Royal London Hospital
14 Jan 2016 by Adam Lyons

5 Important Things to Know Before Working at The Royal London Hospital

I had already made up my mind that I wasn’t a big fan of London. So when I rolled into Euston station on a Sunday night with a pocket full of change and the looming prospect of starting a new job at the Royal London hospital, I felt like a lost and confused explorer. I had no idea how long I’d be there nor what to expect from the coming months. It was a pretty strange feeling, one I’d not really experienced before and I knew when I arrived I was headed into uncharted territory.

This whole expedition was orchestrated by my good friend Mikey. Mikey is a man of the people. Notorious for repetitive one-liners, this man could sell ice to the Eskimos. If there was anyone that could get me a decent job after months of failure, it was Mikey. We had previously worked for the same company back in Australia, so we knew how to work the system.

We agreed I’d stay with him and sleep on his floor. In return I’d teach him how to cook and deliver advice on the ‘fundamental elements of self control’ where appropriate. Apparently at 27 years of age this was a lesson that required revision and Mikey imparted that trust upon me - the guy who dropped out of med school to pursue a career as an androgynous rocker and part-time bedroom music producer. Anyway, I’d go home to Manchester on weekends to continue my music responsibilities and be back in London for work on Monday mornings.
So we arrived together on my first day at the number 1 trauma hospital in the UK. For those that don’t know, I’m an Exercise Physiologist but because that means two thirds of fuck all in this country I was working as a Therapy Assistant. Mikey's a Physiotherapist. So in other words, I was Mikey’s Therapy Assistant. Like all great partnerships in history - Burke and Wills, Batman and Robin, Bert and Ernie - we rose to the occasion. For us, it was about changing the face of the NHS. I understand that not everyone will ever get the chance nor have the displeasure of working in a hospital, so it’s my responsibility to deliver you ‘5 Important Things to Know Before Working at The Royal London Hospital’.
  1. Eating – We all know that lunchtime is the only exciting part of a 9-5 job, so lets get down to business. The UK has plenty on offer when it comes to pre-packaged, ready-to-eat meals and I feel I’ve trialed enough to offer strong advice with supporting evidence. If we’re talking quality vs value for money, look no further than the Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ Ham Hock and Mature Cheddar Cheese sandwich. For £3 you get this, a snack and a drink. That’s a no-brainer when a sandbo on it’s own is £2.70. Depending how hungover you are, I recommend the McCoy’s Flame Grilled Steak crisps and Tropicana Orange juice with pulp. Always pulp. Be sure to grab the sandwhich from the back because you want this shit fresh. Should you be looking for a more fulfilling experience, hit a cheese twist from the bakery section. Please take your time. Ensure you select maximum size with high-density cheese trauma to the sides. This certifies that cheese standards have been met during the cooking process and never be afraid to double up the quantity. This meal was the staple for Mikey and I in admission avoidance. We still believed that it deserved it’s own food group on the pyramid.
  1. Abbreviation/Acronyms – The health sector is the king and queen of abbreviation and word shortening. It’s basically another language you need to learn once you start working in the field. I’m certain that some doctors don’t even know what they're writing half the time, frantically jotting down some letters they saw another doctor write last Tuesday. A bit like Chinese whispers. But there is one particular acronym that is imperative. ‘MLC’. According to Mikey this little beauty stands for ‘Mobilising Like a Champ’. Obviously there is 'ambulating' or 'walking independently', then there's 'Mobilising Like a Champ'. It’s self-explanatory really so please don’t confuse the two and don’t discuss this phrase with those around you. What’s said in A+E, stays in A+E. I shouldn't even be telling you this.
  1. Dossing  - To quote Urban Dictionary, dossing refers to “walking around with no intention of going anywhere”. I think that is a very dry and underwhelming way to describe a term that at times involves much planning and creativity. In the work place, ‘dossing ‘ is basically to do jack shit and is popular amongst agency staff and administration workers. So imagine, it’s 2pm, you’ve ticked a few boxes for the morning, you decide to call up Petey on the 14th floor and find out who's in the office. When given the 'all clear' you can head for the elevators, ham hock meal deals in hand and kick back in the office for 45-90 minutes.  Dossing could also involve getting some sunshine in a nearby park after doing a home visit, as you watch the clock wind down for the afternoon. Apply dossing where appropriate and always have your wits about you.
  1. Drinking – As a rule of thumb Mikey and I did our best to avoid drinking from Mon-Tues by staying in, cooking a succulent Chinese meal and catching up on the weekly offering of ‘Are You The One’. I’m still getting over how the finale ended. But come Wednesday we were ready to wet the whistle. Only 100 steps from the back door of the hospital is the entrance to ‘The Good Samaritan’ pub. This place is your typical London pub. Cozy yet comfortable, no frills kind of set up. This was the place where my love affair with Guinness really blossomed and where you would find nurses, doctors, therapists and cleaning staff young and old, ripping the heads off a few after a full days dossing. It was also an opportunity for ladies of the hospital to fair their chances with any of the male consultants. It is okay to use work as a conversation starter but quickly divert the chat to avoid sounding like a weirdo. My hot tip: knock off 15min early to ensure you save enough seats for those that are finishing work on time or late. She fills up fast.  
  1. NHS ID Card – Don’t ever leave it at home. This is your key to move about the hospital without limitation. It’s what separates you as a hospital employee from the visitors. Sick people and the like. Your ID card lets you hide in the equipment storeroom after numerous hours of dossing (allowing you to truly maximize your daily doss). It gives you access to clean toilets, endless filtered water and a computer, should you need to do a clinical note from 2 days ago. These are fundamental elements of first world living. You forget it and your out in the third world A&E waiting room, checking over your shoulder until someone lets you through. Often help never arrives.  But that’s not all! It’s what this piece of plastic can do outside of the hospital walls that makes it so special. I’m talking discounts. Flip that bad boy out when ordering at Nandos - that’s 20% off. Top Man, 10% off. Curreys PC World 7% off. Dominos, a pathetic 5% off but that doesn’t matter because it’s cash back and we’re all about savings!
Like all great things, my time in London came to an end. After only one short month together, Mikey and I didn’t manage to change the face of the NHS but we certainly made a few patients smile.

To your health,
Pan xx

An example of high density cheese trauma. Note the size and girth. 

Example of dossing at work. Standards don't get much higher than this.


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