A DOCTOR who took a three month sabbatical from a Wrexham hospice to travel the world after saving for years for the dream trip, is back on the ward after her plans were cut short.

Dr Claire Dunne is one of Nightingale House’s speciality doctors in palliative medicine at Nightingale House Hospice in Wrexham.

Dr Claire and her partner had saved for several years for the once in a lifetime trip that began at the beginning of March and was to take in New Zealand and then South America.

But her plans were cut short after just two and a half weeks in New Zealand when the Covid-19 pandemic struck and the pair were forced to fly home on 23 March - the day lockdown was announced in the UK.

Dr Claire was not due to return to the hospice until the middle of June but as her plans changed she returned to the hospice to do the job she loves, criss-crossing between the in-patient and out-patient units.

She is philosophical about her cancelled holiday plans and says they will now wait until she has saved up again.

She said: “We were lucky to get back when we did and it is what it is. I think the team at Nightingale House were pleased to have an extra pair of hands."

Since lockdown the hospice has had to add to its’ admissions policy, and alongside the usual referral processes, is now operating a triage system, set up to take calls directly from family members of individuals with palliative care needs who might need admission but are struggling with referrals through the normal channels due to obvious pressures on the NHS.

“Things have changed since I got back, with the introduction of Zoom calls for outpatients and their families," she added.

"It is a new style of work and it is not how we would choose to do things, as the obvious drawback from my point of view is that it is more difficult to assess patients when we can’t see them to examine them.

“It has shown us how we can develop our outreach services for patients with the technology but it does depend on the person; for some a simple phone call is all it takes to help them feel less isolated.”

Dr Claire originally wanted to specialise in paediatrics but soon changed her mind after a four month stint at Nightingale House as part of her foundation training and fell in love with the holistic approach hospice care gives to its’ patients.

She said: “I am privileged to have the job I do because we have got the time to devote to our patients and give them patient-centred care through both medical and holistic treatments.”

  • If you have a family member with a life-limiting illness and in need of palliative care such as cancer, heart failure or neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease and are already known to the district nursing general practice teams and struggling with un-controlled symptoms of pain and sickness you can ring the Nightingale House Hospice Triage Admissions team on 01978 316800 between 9am - 4pm, Monday - Friday (except Bank Holidays).