I remember several months ago having a lovely conversation with a patient on one of our wards. When she asked me a question I informed her that I was “only the Chief Executive” and if she wanted the answer to her question she would need to speak to the Ward Clerk - we both laughed.
This was a small light-hearted exchange, but within this little snippet was something that we both recognised instantly - the crucial role of our ward clerks, their level of knowledge and their value to us all.
Without the ward clerk, the ward doesn’t function nearly as well. If they are off sick or on leave, staff can’t wait to have them back. Their jobs are incredibly varied and interesting. They need to have excellent organisational skills (which they claim is why you never get men doing the job !).
They ‘meet and greet’, organise transport and patient discharge and help ensure that the ward runs smoothly. Behind every excellent ward leader and within every successful ward team you will normally find a brilliant ward clerk.
So what makes them tick. When I met with them they talked about their pride in the job, being able to support staff and having that additional sympathetic ear for patients.
They are often called upon to mentor new ward staff and be a focal point for new doctors who come onto the wards. “Do you know how? Do you know who? Do you know where ?” The fact is, they normally do !
I also asked them what would be a key message for other staff in the hospital. They said that while most staff appreciate what they do they are not always listened to because they are ‘just the ward clerk’.
As with our porters who I covered earlier, there will be issues, and I listened and learnt. Our ward clerks are positive about their role and I think staff do recognise their value to the hospital, our patients and other staff.
One thing’s for sure - they’re not ‘just the ward clerk’ !