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You Made a Difference - March 2024

A booking administrator who went above and beyond her role to ensure a patient could have treatment and a consultant who empowers patients are our winners of the March You Made a Difference awards.

Despoina Romiou - YMAD March 2024 winner
Despoina Romiou, booking administrator

Despoina is the bookings administrator for the endoscopy department, providing administrative support to all users of the department. She is responsible for the bookings of both diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopic procedures and for ensuring all national and local targets are met.

Despoina sends pre-procedure preparation information to a select cohort of patients and liaises with the team to amend endoscopy lists to meet clinic capacity demands.

Despoina is hardworking, caring and kind. She has worked in the NHS previously as a healthcare assistant.

She is a dedicated member of the team who cares greatly for the patients.

Despoina Romiou - YMAD March 2024 winner with colleagues
Despoina Romiou and colleagues

Extracts from Despoina’s nomination, submitted by the relative of a patient, said:

“I found myself in the outpatients endoscopy department accompanying my partner who had to have a colonoscopy. A patient came in for an appointment, with a family member who they hoped they could take in with them due to medical reasons, but the staff explained this wasn't safe or something that they could allow.

“The patient was ready to cancel their appointment. Without any hesitation Despoina said not to worry the patients family member could stay in the reception booth during the procedure.

“Despoina was absolutely incredible. She went to every effort to keep the family member calm whilst the patient had their procedure.“

She went above and beyond her role to ensure the patient could have their procedure without worry.

“I couldn't let it slide under the carpet without trying to nominate the wonderful receptionist for this truly well-deserved award.

“Thank you a million times for your hard work and dedication to the NHS and patients!”

Rachel Thornton - YMAD March 2024 winner
Rachel Thornton, consultant, clinical neurophysiology

Rachel started as a registrar at CUH in August 2010 and immediately excelled, with a particular interest in long term inpatient EEG-videotelemetry. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that measures electrical activity in the brain using small, metal discs (electrodes) attached to the scalp. An EEG-videotelemetry is a technology used for monitoring seizures, which videos the patient while simultaneously recording brainwave activity.

After additional training and gaining her Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT), Rachel chose to move on from CUH and work as a consultant in Great Ormond Street Hospital where she gained invaluable experience in paediatric epilepsies and videotelemetry.

A few years later, the lure of working back at Addenbrooke’s was too much and Rachel re-joined the clinical neurophysiology team. She now leads the adult and paediatric videotelemetry services here and has been helping get home videotelemetry off the ground.

Rachel has great expertise in complex epilepsy cases and organises the epilepsy surgery pathway here at Addenbrooke’s, collaborating with colleagues at King's College Hospital in London. She has taken on an epilepsy clinic and will also be setting up a transition service for paediatric epilepsy patients in collaboration with colleagues.

Rachel has a great passion and ability to teach.

She is one of three consultants running a longstanding EEG course responsible for training neurologists in EEG as well as video interpretation during seizures.

Together with Dr Michell, she is helping set up vCreate across the East of England. This will allow secure video sharing for patients, enabling quicker and more accurate diagnosis with reduced appointments and investigations. It will also incorporate a teaching database. She does all this with a smile and is a fantastic colleague.

Extracts from Rachel’s nomination, submitted by a colleague, said:

“Rachel is an integral member of our team. She is unbelievably kind, funny and an incredible doctor.

Rachel has a way of explaining things to patients that not only makes them understand their diagnosis but makes them feel empowered. She is someone I aspire to be like and I’m lucky to know and work alongside her.

Rachel Thornton YMAD March 2024 winner with colleagues
Rachel Thornton and colleagues

“If this wasn’t enough, she’s recently co-created vCreate which is a new programme to support remote diagnosis of children presenting with possible seizures. After referral, it is estimated to reduce NHS waiting times by up to 90%. It is a collaborative system which will increase communication between families and medical teams, improve the quality of care and provide peace of mind for parents.

Rachel is constantly looking for ways to improve patient care standards and goes above and beyond to ensure the safety and welfare of our patients is maintained.

“She is someone who is humble and does these things because she deeply cares. I believe she makes a difference every day and this is something that should be recognised.”