Charity creates a home from home

A junior doctor at Barnet Hospital has described how new accommodation created by the Royal Free Charity has made her feel supported while working on the frontline in A&E.

Raoudha Ben Othman, a clinical research fellow working in A&E, said: “I come from Tunisia and have no family here so it was quite daunting to try to find somewhere in this situation.”

But then she was told about Graseby House, a former student accommodation block a short walk from Barnet Hospital which the Royal Free Charity has transformed into accommodation for 63 clinical staff and offices for 100 administration staff.

Each resident has their own room and bathroom and a shared kitchen and laundry facilities. “It was very important to me to have my own space and bathroom,” said Dr Ben Othman. “And the way everything is organised makes you feel like they are really taking care of you. Bills are included in the rent, a cleaner comes into the communal areas every day, the trash is emptied. These things take a huge load off you.”

She added: “I came in with my bags and felt safe and settled. It is very important for a newcomer, I believe, to have a start place that is comfortable and thought through.”

Unable to organise a large-scale event because of the pandemic, last week (14 October) the facility had a visit from senior trust and charity staff to mark the opening.

Jon Spiers, the new chief executive of the charity, said: It’s a fantastic building providing critically needed starter accommodation for nurses and office space for support staff.

“I was lucky enough to talk to a newly-recruited nurse staying in Graseby House who shared with me that this accommodation was a crucial reason she was able to take a job at Barnet Hospital. This is a perfect example of how the trust and charity can work together to radically improve the staff experience for the benefit of our patients.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Royal Free Charity raises funds for projects and facilities to support patients and staff and aims to make every patient’s experience the best it can be. It funds research into new treatments and next year will unveil the Pears Building. Funded by the charity, UCL and the Royal Free London NHS Trust, the building will provide a new home for the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation in the grounds of the Royal Free Hospital.

During the height of the Covid-19 crisis, the Royal Free Charity ran a highly successful campaign to raise funds to directly support the staff at the trust’s three hospitals: Barnet Hospital, Chase Farm Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, including providing a free supermarket, new rest areas, iPads, TV and wifi for patients, as well as funding for vaccine-related research.

For more information, please contact Philippa Hutchinson at [email protected] or on 07311 657741.