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A day in the life… Denise Eck, Reception Supervisor


Denise Eck


Denise is the Specimen Reception Manager at Croydon Hospital. She started working at Croydon in 1992 with a part-time role in blood transfusion (BT), after taking some time away from work to have her children. Initially, she found that there was not enough work to keep her occupied, so she began taking on additional tasks which eventually became part of her job. As time went on, Denise gradually increased her hours at work.

When SWLP was set up in 2014, Denise’s job role changed, and she began rotating around the different departments within pathology. Although she wasn’t initially enthusiastic about this change, she enjoyed the increased knowledge obtained from working in the different sections. When the role of reception supervisor came up, Denise was unsure whether to apply for it, despite eventually proving to be the perfect candidate. She was encouraged by her colleagues and the clinical team to put forward an application. She decided that she would and hasn’t looked back!

Denise would never have dreamt when she took her first role in BT that she would still be in the lab over 30 years later, but she still absolutely loves her job and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

What does an average day look like for you?

Denise is a morning person who likes to get in early, which gives her the opportunity to catch up with the staff members who have covered the night shifts to see how it went and if there is anything she needs to take forward. This is also a good time to plan the day ahead with a ‘to do list’. However, this often does not go to plan due to the unpredictable nature of the incoming work.

She covers the reception area between 8am and 9am, receiving and booking in samples. When most of the team arrive at 9am there is usually a huddle to talk through the day ahead and exchange feedback. Denise is responsible for ensuring that all disciplines within pathology have daily support and sometimes there will be a need to rearrange rotas. Throughout the day, Denise monitors the outstanding number of samples waiting to be sorted and booked in to check that the team are keeping on top of the workload.

Denise spends time throughout the day dealing with wide-ranging tasks as they occur. These can range from placing stock orders, to liaising with Croydon staff, to recently being asked by ERS to write a statement in support for one of their drivers to appeal a PCN they received while collecting samples. No two days are ever the same. She also answers multiple phone calls throughout the day from internal and external staff and patients with various queries.

Denise enjoys that she liaises regularly and has built a good working relationship with colleagues across SWLP and within Croydon Hospital. She works closely with colleagues from phlebotomy and the Microbiology team based at Croydon, to name just a couple of departments. She also works closely with the reception managers at both St George’s and Kingston Hospitals, the Histology OSNA team who work regularly at the lab at Croydon and the Microbiology team at St George’s.  

What is your favourite thing about the job?

Denise loves her job, but one of the best things for her is her fantastic team. The team have a positive attitude and are always keen to look at ways the service can be improved and to take on innovative ways of working. The positivity of the team feeds through to new starters, who can see the pride that the team takes in its work and the service it provides to the hospital and its patients.

She also loves to see people in her team progress, as many of them complete their IBMS portfolio while working in reception and then move on to become a BMS within the network. Denise is so proud when she takes new starters around the lab and is able to point out that BMSs in different departments started out in her team. It also shows new starters that progression is supported within SWLP and that we like to promote from within, which Denise finds very satisfying.

Is there a moment you will always remember?

Early in her time working in BT, there was a major haemorrhage alert received for a patient on labour ward. It affected Denise so much that to this day she can still recall the patients’ name. A porter who was working while on his summer break from university was sprinting between the obstetric theatres and the lab to collect blood products as the haemorrhage was that severe. Both mother and baby recovered well, but what really stuck in Denise’s mind was the huge team effort that it took to make this possible, from all the medical staff, BT lab staff and NHSBT staff preparing and delivering numerous extra blood products, to the porter who must have run the distance of a marathon.

The haematologist did a case study on the event so everyone involved was able to learn a lot from it. This highlighted to her very early on the crucial role that the lab plays, despite it sometimes being a hidden service.

How did you get into laboratory work?

Denise actually began working in the laboratory by chance. She had been working for a Canadian airline before taking time off to have her first child. She decided not to go back to work at that point and was a stay-at-home mum for the next six years and when she began looking for work again, she had lost some of her confidence. She was looking for jobs locally and the job in the lab at Croydon came up.

Despite having worked in the lab for a long time, Denise always looks forward to coming to work and is excited by the leaps forward in the lab since the conception of SWLP in 2014. She has seen the science and technology change beyond recognition since she began in 1992 and is constantly amazed by the impact that the laboratory can have on the lives of patients.

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