Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2022: Eternal Flame

Unsung heroes: appreciating colleagues who work alongside us

BMJ 2022; 379 doi: (Published 15 December 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;379:o2842
  1. Zainab Hussain
  1. The BMJ
  1. zhussain{at}

As 2022 draws to a close, we want to recognise healthcare workers whose efforts may go unnoticed despite being integral to the delivery of high quality patient care. From reception to the canteen and the lab, staff share their experiences with Zainab Hussain

Cyril Schaegis

Receptionist, Newham Hospital

Although covid-19 had an impact on many people’s lives, it led Cyril to his current role as a receptionist at Newham Hospital in east London (fig 1). After being made redundant in his previous post at a finance centre, he joined the hospital in a role giving out food to inpatients during the first wave of the covid pandemic in March 2020.

Fig 1

Cyril Schaegis

He says, “Of course, the pandemic was a very difficult moment for everyone. But realising that I could go back to work and make a difference for some people felt very rewarding to me.”

Cyril, who is originally from France, enjoyed looking after patients on the dementia wards the most. As he was living abroad from his family, he says that it gave him comfort to think that someone would look after his grandparents like a member of their family, so he wanted to offer the same to patients here.

“I was doing quite a lot with the older patients—they obviously didn’t want to be at hospital, they wanted to be home,” he says. “They’re not eating what they’re used to, and it was important for me to be nice.

“One patient recognised my French accent when I was serving coffee after lunch one time, and he kept asking me to speak to him in French because he enjoyed laughing along with my accent. It was a very cute experience. I just wanted to offer some distraction …

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