Life in the Hospital Lane - Who's who in Hospital. Part 3

Wed Dec. 20th 2023

In the world of healthcare, hospitals are bustling hubs of activity. Within these busy walls, a varied group of professionals works together to ensure the well-being of the patients that come their way. From the reassuring smile at the front desk to the skilled hands in the operating room, these heroes form a compassionate, dedicated network that strives to mend, heal, and support. Whether you’ve been within the hospital walls frequently or are new to the scene - it can be daunting remembering the different titles of the professionals you meet, let alone knowing what they do! Here, we set out some professional roles and a brief description of what they do to give an overall picture of how the staff you’ll meet work together. The key roles of staff in a hospital can be broadly categorised into four areas.

Doctors (Medical Staff)


Allied Health Professionals

Support Staff

Every member of the hospital staff plays a unique and crucial role in patient care. Their combined efforts create a supportive and healing atmosphere that makes hospitals more than just buildings; they are places of hope and recovery.

For part one - Doctors (Medical Staff) and NursesClick Here

For part two - Allied Health Professionals - Click Here

Support Staff

Keeping a hospital running requires a great deal of organisation and administration. During your hospital stay, you will see a wide range of support and administrative staff taking care of everything from laundry and meals to patient transport and maintenance. The hospital support staff you may meet during your stay include:

Patient Meal or Catering Services Assistants – are professionals who support the delivery of meals and nutritional services to patients. Their responsibilities typically include preparing and serving meals, assisting with dietary restrictions, ensuring proper food hygiene, and maintaining a clean and organised kitchen or food service area within a healthcare facility. They may also communicate with patients to gather information about their dietary preferences and restrictions and coordinate with other members of the healthcare team to meet patient's nutritional needs. It is important to discuss any food allergies or concerns with them as well as the medical and nursing team.

If you’ve ever stayed in hospital for longer than a day or two, chances are you’ve come across an Orderly. The smiling face of an orderly and their care of patients - ensures those who need help in getting around the hospital are taken care of. Orderlies take care of patient lifting and transport of patients between departments, to scans, to theatre, and back to the ward. Orderlies may also help with the movement of medical equipment, deliver supplies, and provide general support in maintaining a safe and organised hospital environment.

Volunteers play a crucial role in enhancing the overall patient experience and contribute to the smooth operation of the healthcare facility. They offer their time for tasks such as patient assistance, companionship for example some hospitals have a ‘Grandparent service’ - volunteers who are police vetted, come in on certain days and sit and play with the children for an hour so the parents can have a break from the ward knowing their child would be looked after. Volunteers also help with clerical support, visitor services, hospitality, community outreach and promotion, special programs, and fundraising initiatives. Volunteers typically love to ‘give back’ and in return for their skills are rewarded with the satisfaction of helping those in need.

If you’re unfamiliar with a particular hospital, it can seem a bit like a maze without a map! Ward Clerks are the heart of the ward, and these people are often the best place to start when you need directions. They staff the ward reception desks, have eyes on the coming and going of patients and their families, and often know the whereabouts of staff on the ward as well.

Particularly with paediatric care, is the need for Play Specialists, they are a pivotal part of the journey for children in long-term hospital stays. Available in most hospitals, these specialists can help by using distraction techniques during potentially painful and traumatic procedures. In some instances, they can even accompany you for these. They can offer developmental toys and games to help the child pass the time while keeping the mind and body engaged while in the hospital. Sometimes they will use role play to take the fear away from medical procedures - this can be hugely beneficial for both the child and the parents. Fears around getting an intravenous line inserted or with what happens when you go to the theatre, are alleviated but the techniques the play specialists use, help the child process what will happen and reduce any feelings of anxiety they may have.

It goes without saying that a hospital must maintain a high standard of cleanliness and hygiene at all times. This is where Cleaning Staff are crucial. They will clean patient’s rooms and wards daily to ensure the environment is clean and safe for use. Their responsibilities go beyond basic cleaning to disinfecting high-touch areas, managing waste, handling infectious materials, maintaining safe floors to prevent slips and falls, sanitising public areas, and adhering to strict safety protocols to prevent infection.

To ensure the safety of patients, staff, and visitors, Security Staff are employed at hospitals. They monitor entrances, respond to emergencies, and enforce hospital visiting policies. They are often the ‘gatekeepers’ to make sure wards are a safe environment for patients, their families, and visitors.

When you need assistance with understanding, Language Interpreters are usually on hand to help at hospitals. They help with interpretation for patients and families who have limited English or where English is not their native language - to facilitate effective communication with healthcare providers.

If you ever feel like you need support with your rights and the service you receive within a hospital or any healthcare setting, there are Patient Advocates to liaise between patients, their families, and hospital staff. Their role is to champion the rights and well-being of patients and to collaborate to make their preferences known to healthcare professionals. They are trained to help resolve concerns, address ethical concerns, provide emotional support, and facilitate access to social services and support groups. They may also assist in discharge planning, ensuring that patients have the necessary support, medications, and follow-up care in place as they transition from hospital to home.

The diverse needs and complex environment of a hospital rely on an array of staff and roles to provide comprehensive patient care and operational support. Our hospitals are busy, bustling places, and it’s the people within that help to make them safe, clean, professional hubs of healthcare. Whatever the role, each plays a crucial part in providing an efficient hospital system, and it’s with thankfulness that we recognise the work and dedicated support they give to aid in the care and healing of the sick or unwell.

Thank you to our hospital heroes!