Doreen’s forty years on the A&E wards

Dorreen Gillespie (centre left) retiring after 40 years with the Royal, Coleraine and Causeway Hospital A & E Departments is pictured at her retirement party with friends and staff at the Royal Court Hotel, Portrush. INCR23-353PL
Dorreen Gillespie (centre left) retiring after 40 years with the Royal, Coleraine and Causeway Hospital A & E Departments is pictured at her retirement party with friends and staff at the Royal Court Hotel, Portrush. INCR23-353PL

Warm tributes have been paid to a Coleraine nurse who retires after forty years in the Accident and Emmergency department.

Doreen Gillespie met with friends and family to mark her retirement at the Royal Court in Portrush last week.

The Ballymoney woman began her training in 1970 at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. Once qualified, Doreen staffed A&E for a year, which was difficult for a young nurse.

In the height of the Troubles, Doreen and the staff were dealing with gun shot wounds, bomb victims and punishment shootings.

“We learned to cope by maintaining our professionalism,” said Doreen. “But, when we came off duty, you started to remember the terrible things.”

After a year in Belfast, Doreen returned home to marry her husband Howard, and she took up a post at Coleraine Hospital. The move to the new Causeway Hospital was tinged with sadness for the staff according to Doreen: “We knew that this would bring changes, not all for the good. Politics, budgets and targets seemd to take over bringing added stress,” admitted Doreen.

Doreen has been one of the team closely involved in the introduction of the Primary Care Centre where patients are seen by GPs out of hours.

She also completed her bereavement councelling course and became a councillor for the Causeway area.

For the past two years she has worked as a triage nurse. Speaking about her time in nursing, Doreen added: “Being a nurse is about relating to those you are caring for, you need to build trust with people.”