Scots nurses told 'no time off' to attend funeral of colleague who died after cancer battle

Sick Kids
-Credit:Daily Record

Nurses at an Edinburgh hospital have been left outraged after being told they can't take time off to attend the funeral of a beloved colleague.

Chloe Cochrane, who was a theatre practitioner at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, tragically passed away last month following a diagnosis of aggressive stage four cancer, leaving behind her husband and two children. News of Chloe's untimely death reached her colleagues, some of whom had worked alongside her for 15 years, and plans for her funeral were made for April 28.

However, despite Chloe's workmates requesting an extended lunch break to attend the service at Mortonhall Crematorium on Friday, May 10, they were informed on Tuesday that their request had been denied.

However, only four of Chloe's colleagues were set to attend the service due to their shift pattern on Friday, instead of being granted special permission from health board bosses. However, the department's clinical leads have helped make it possible for other colleagues to attend, reports Edinburgh Live.

The health board has since extended its condolences to Chloe's family, describing her as a "much loved and respected colleague."

Allister Short, NHS Lothian's Women's and Children's Service Director, stated that staff rotas must be balanced to allow the maximum number of people to take time off while ensuring patient care and appointments proceed as planned.

A friend and colleague of Chloe's, who is deeply upset by NHS Lothian's decision, told us that "she would have wanted" as many of her colleagues at the service as possible.

She added: "Chloe was sadly diagnosed with stage four cancer last year and lost that battle at the end of April. She lived in Edinburgh all her life and I have known her over 20 years.

"She has worked in our department for around 15 years in theatres. We assist surgeons during operations and are specifically trained to use equipment and instruments at the sick kids.

"We have known about the funeral for a while so bosses have had time to put plans in place. It has been decided that there will be no extended lunch break or exceptions to attend her funeral. We obviously understand there always has to be an emergency team on standby so we're not expecting everyone to be allowed to go but even surgeons want to go.

"Everyone has been distraught following Chloe's passing and this news has brought everything on again. Everyone is just so upset. Our clinical leads have been trying to fight our corner and have been supportive but have got nowhere.

"We just assumed under the circumstances it would be allowed so people started making plans until the news was confirmed today. Staff just feel like they'll be letting Chloe down. She was more than a colleague to a lot of people.

"She was such a big personality that she touched everyone's lives. The impact of her was always there."

The employee noted that the funeral could have seen attendance from around 30 staff members, including surgeons, practitioners, and anaesthetists.

Continuing, the employee expressed frustration with management: "It's just management, they don't get it. They won't have stepped foot in our theatre ever and they're calling the shots on a decision like this. They go on about core NHS values and I said to my colleague does that only apply to patients?

"The impact this will have on our department is huge. It's just really disrespectful to me and to the service she gave. She would be raging. I would message her and sometimes just send her love hearts just to let her know I was thinking of her."

Chloe was diagnosed with the fatal illness in March 2023, spent an extended period in hospital, and also battled sepsis before her treatment was halted.

In a statement, Allister Short, Service Director for Women's and Children's division at NHS Lothian mentioned: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of Chloe, who was a much loved and respected colleague."

He added: "We have to balance staff rotas to allow as many people as possible to take time away from work while ensuring that patient care, appointments and scheduled procedures are not impacted."

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