Maura voted one of the tops NHS stars

Maura voted one of the tops NHS stars

11 July 2018

MAURA Dryden is a real ‘star’ of the National Health Service.

The Downpatrick woman is one of five people from Northern Ireland voted by the public as one of the Top 70 Stars of the NHS to mark the organisation’s recent 70th anniversary.

She has spent the last 50 years of her life working to ensure that local hospitals, GP surgeries and community health buildings are clean and all domestic services ran smoothly for the benefit of patients.

As she retired on the celebratory day for the entire health service, the 67-year-old admits it was a bittersweet experience to say farewell to her work colleagues.

“I will miss everyone that I’ve worked with as I must say that I had a great team to work with, from my senior managers down,” said Maura.

“I got an amazing send-off and it was lovely to see retired senior managers, who I had worked with over the years, come back for my leaving do.”

Maura first started to work as a domestic assistant at the age of 17 at the former Quoile Hospital. 

Since then, she has worked her way up to becoming a senior manager responsible for patient experience.

For those not working in the health service, patient experience covers everything from the food that is served, the cleaning of the wards to the portering of patients around the hospital.

The mother-of-four from Braeside Avenue had a major role covering the Downe, Downshire and Lagan Valley hospitals, as well as looking after Down and Lisburn Community Trust buildings.

She was responsible for over 250 domestics, porters, security staff and their supervisors.

But it all might not have been if she had taken up two other job opportunities that came her way — entering the Civil Service or becoming a nurse.

“When I was at school I applied to civil service and was offered a job in Castle Buildings in Belfast,” she told the Recorder.

“But I would have had to travel on the bus every day and I was a bad traveller then. The day I went for my interview, I was as sick as a dog and knew the job wasn’t for me.

“Then I got my job at Quoile Hospital. I remember them being really happy days as I really enjoyed my work. 

“Later on, I was offered to go and train for a nursing post and I thought about it for a while. But then I thought no, I’m happy at my work so I declined that.”

When the first of her now adult children — John, Colin, Michael and Katherine — was born, Maura became a part-time evening supervisor at the Downshire Hospital. She later moved to a full-time position as a day supervisor, still within the Co Down health community.

Over the years she climbed up the ranks — even working for out-sourced domestic hospital services for a period — but all the while, she remained dedicated to her team of domestic workers and porters.

“Our services are excellent when it comes to the patient experience,” she said proudly.

“Our staff chat to the patients and try to keep up their spirits along with the nursing staff. We get audited on a monthly basis and the audit figures are excellent.

“Our staff wouldn’t have hours in abundance but they pull out all the stops in relation to the amount of work they get through over a shift, many working into the small hours. 

“Our porters are also excellent and they do over and above of what it’s expected of them.”

Her career highlight was being part of the project team which planned all the services for the new Downe Hospital, the preparation and cleaning before it opened in 2009 and continuing management of the services.

Maura plans to enjoy gardening and walking — and perhaps taking up bowls — in her retirement with her husband, David.