A day in the life of … Cathy Varley

We spent the day with Cathy Varley, Head of the Patient Advice and Liaison service

Cathy Varley

We’re showcasing the work of different members of our amazing staff at King's, looking at all areas of the hospital. In our third ‘a day in the life of’ we’re with Cathy Varley, Head of the Patient Advice and Liaison team, which offers support, information and assistance to patients, relatives and visitors.

9am: The PALs office opens for the day and the phones start ringing straight away

9.07am: Cathy responds to an email that’s come in from a patient overnight. She explains to us that PALs is there to help patients and always tries to be open and clear with them #KingsDayInTheLife

10.05am: Cathy deals with another query that’s come through to the team this morning. She rings the ward to try and resolve the issue and find out what’s happening so that she can respond. Cathy lets the patient know that the issue is being looked into.

10.45am: A patient comes to the PALS desk asking for their medical records. PALS can help although they don’t actually manage these requests. The proper process is to go through the Patient Records Service: Patient Records Service.

11.08am: Another patient comes to the PALS desk to ask about the patient transport policy. Cathy goes through the policy with them.

11.50am: Cathy deals with a patient who, she explains, needs apologising to as a solution hasn’t been made in the agreed timeframe. He’s amenable and thankful for the help. A new date is agreed.

12.15pm: Cathy looks into a patient enquiry and tries to get the bottom of what the issue is, asking the relevant questions and contacting the service. She explains that working in PALS requires a lot of analysis and delving into what the issue actually is.

1.15pm: The PALS team at King’s stays open over lunchtime to help patients, relatives and visitors, so the team take it in turns to go and get something to eat. They receive up to 700 enquiries each month.

1.50pm: The phones continue to ring and emails keep coming in. Cathy and the team carry on responding to these enquiries and helping patients with their issues – whether that means contacting a service, chasing something up, or offering advice and information.

2.31pm: A complaint comes into the team via email. Cathy explains that there’s a separate team for complaints and describes the process.

3.20pm: The PALS team get a thank you message form a patient they’ve helped. There’s lots of cards in the office from grateful patients.

4.30pm: The PALS office closes to patients and the public for the day and the team spend the rest of their time at work logging all of the enquiries that have come in.

Cathy started work as a nurse at King’s in 1991. She moved to PALS when it was first set up in 2001 to try and improve the service we provide to patients.

After 27 years at King’s, it’s Cathy’s last day today. We want to thank her for all her hard work and wish her good luck for the future!

For further information please contact:
Molly Downing
Communications Officer
Extension: +44 (0)20 3299 3257