STAFF at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital have been heading to work every day in the face of a global pandemic to help care for the public.

The Dalmuir hospital is Scotland’s specialist centre for heart and lung treatment and during the pandemic it has scaled down non-urgent outpatient appointments and planned procedures, following government guidelines.

Although the Golden Jubilee has remained a coronavirus-free site in terms of treatment, it continues to treat emergency heart and lung patients as well as taking on some urgent cancer cases for neighbouring hospitals dealing with Covid-19 patients.

As a result, some local staff are operating in new roles while others are adjusting to new shift rotations to allow for physical distancing between employees and patients.

This week, the Post gives you an insight into the working lives of seven key hospital workers – Eilidh McCunn, Diamantino de Freitas, Gillian Lawless, Heather Beattie, Maeve Coleman, Catherine McKechnie and Ailie Anderson – who selflessly turn up to work every day to care for patients amid the deadly pandemic.


Eilidh McCunn, a 28-year-old housekeeper from Whitecrook who has worked at the hospital for six years, puts her efforts into maintaining a high standard of cleanliness at the facility.

Although her role hasn’t altered much during the pandemic, since keeping the hospital infection-free is always a priority, she has had to adapt to wearing PPE that can get warm.

Speaking about her work, Eilidh said: “I really do enjoy my work and I get satisfaction in knowing I’m helping towards preventing infection, especially in these times.

“I’ve always felt the NHS is the backbone of our society and do so even more now. If anything it’s just made us stronger as a team and shows that we can get through anything when we work together.”


Diamantino de Freitas, 54, a rehabilitation assistant from Drumry, has also been employed at the hospital for six years. He normally works in the orthopaedic clinic helping patients who require hip or knee replacement surgery.

During the pandemic he and close colleagues have been moved to cardiothoracic services to assist with the rehabilitation of patients who have had heart or lung surgery.

Despite being in the “at risk” category himself, Diamantino still works, but he is shielded from patient interaction.

He said although staff had to alter their roles quickly when procedures changed – particularly in terms of social distancing – many practices have now become “the norm”.

Speaking about working for the NHS, Diamantino said: “Covid-19 has enforced my positive views on the NHS and I always say that no matter what your role, you are always important.”


Gillian Lawless, from Whitecrook, maintains, supports and develops the hospital IT systems.

Due to Covid-19 she now works some shifts from home on a rota.

The 37-year-old faces new communication challenges as a result because she can’t just pop over to see a colleague and help resolve an issue.

And when asked about a recent time she experienced job satisfaction, Gillian said: “In response to the outbreak we have had to adjust our IT systems to allow us to admit patients with health concerns from other areas of the country.

“Being responsible for making these changes in a short period of time, to allow these very sick patients to be brought to the Golden Jubilee to have their essential treatment, has given me a lot of job satisfaction.”


Heather Beattie, 22, from Old Kilpatrick, runs outpatient clinics, or wards, in her role as a unit co-ordinator.

Despite only starting the job six months ago, she is now getting used to a new way of working where she has been moving between wards on a sometimes daily basis while also adjusting to night shifts.

Heather said: “At the beginning I was apprehensive, as I know most NHS workers were, however, there is a feeling of togetherness, especially within the Golden Jubilee, which brought comfort that everyone was feeling the same.”

She added: “It is a difficult time for patients who are undergoing procedures and especially when they can’t have any visitors at the moment.

“Being able to talk to them and offer a friendly face for them to take their mind off things is definitely the most satisfying aspect of my job.”

When asked about what it feels like to work for the NHS, she said: “It really is unlike any other profession in terms of how much care and emotion goes into every aspect of the day.

“I have definitely noticed a shift in how the public feel towards the NHS and they appreciate that the NHS really is capable of coming together and overcoming crisis when it occurs.”


Helensburgh’s Maeve Coleman started working as an orthopaedic secretary eight months ago, but she volunteered to work at the Mobilisation Hub, which was set up specifically to focus on managing services within Golden Jubilee during the pandemic.

Maeve has been getting used to a new role and team, whilst also social distancing, but she said colleagues have made a special effort to take part in small team challenges – such as using stairs instead of the lift, or bringing rainbows into work – to lift the mood.

During the pandemic, the Golden Jubilee has taken in emergency patients – some of whom require surgery – from other NHS boards that are dealing primarily with Covid-19 patients.

Maeve, who only recently moved to Scotland, said it took a lot of planning to organise this, with various medical, nursing and management staff involved, and she had to set up key meetings by video conference. This involved learning a new skill while she was still familiarising herself with the area.

She said: “It was really satisfying when I heard that some of these patients had come to the Golden Jubilee for their treatment and had gone home well.

“I know I’m a very small cog in a very big wheel, but a big wheel can’t move without cogs.”

Speaking about her view and the public’s impression of the NHS, she said the effort from colleagues has been “amazing, and inspiring”.

She added: “Everyone now knows the extraordinary sacrifice NHS staff are prepared to make to do their job which, simply, is to care for people.

“I honestly don’t think a nation often sees this level of commitment and bravery, apart from maybe during wartime, and the extraordinary response of the weekly Clap for the Carers demonstrates how much the public really values the NHS and frontline services.”


Catherine McKechnie, from Clydebank, is a catering senior team leader at the hospital, where she has worked for almost eight years.

The pandemic has altered the usual hustle and bustle of the kitchens, due to social distancing, and as well as changing how they serve meals, Catherine’s team must do all the dishes in the ward galley kitchens instead of in the main kitchen, which was a challenging move.

Catherine said working with PPE has also been an adjustment - but it’s interacting with the patients that she misses the most.

The 56-year-old said: “I personally like making sure they are taken care of if there are any issues with their eating or anything like that.

“I’m very much a people person so I’m really missing the conversations with patients.

“I actually always enjoy my job. Some people don’t believe that but it’s true. I have job satisfaction every time I come through the door and if there isn’t, I strive to try and fix it.”

But team spirits are still high and the staff enjoy having a laugh.

Catherine said: “We are all trying to keep each other’s spirits up at the moment as we’re not working as a normal team, but we are still together as a team.”

She said although her view of the NHS hasn’t changed, the public seem to have a greater awareness of its value.

Catherine added: “People are now realising what all the services do. They now know it’s not only nurses and doctors that care for people.

“We’ve all got our bit to do. It’s the NHS as a whole now.”


Ailie Anderson, 22, from Clydebank, is a third year biomedical science student at Glasgow Caledonian University. She is on a 15-week placement at the hospital.

Ailie is being supported in analysing patients’ test results which helps the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions.

Although the pandemic disrupted her initial placement, Ailie is now working alongside scientists who have been doing Covid-19 testing on a new analyser. She said this has involved a lot of training and analysing of results, which has changed their daily work.

Ailie is not permitted to work directly on coronavirus testing, but she says she will still emerge with “a unique placement experience”, due to the pandemic.

She added: “Witnessing how the biomedical scientists have adapted to this situation has been amazing. Everyone here has a real passion for the best patient care, which is very inspiring and really at the centre of the service.”

When asked what she would say to someone thinking of a career in the NHS, Ailie said: “People are so supportive of young people coming into the industry and they really want to support and encourage them coming into different disciplines, and that’s the same right across the hospital.

“I feel like people are really compassionate here and if you really want to make a difference in the world, then this is a job for you.

“Every single job here is making a difference to people.”