Review of the Year 2019: December

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 January 2020

Karen raised £11,000 for Garden House Hospice Care, which will fund a cuddle bed in memory of her husband Alan. Picture: Garden House Hospice Care

Karen raised £11,000 for Garden House Hospice Care, which will fund a cuddle bed in memory of her husband Alan. Picture: Garden House Hospice Care

Archant

In December we shared stories on the increasing levels of stress for NHS workers, the December election results, a new ‘cuddle bed’ at a hospice and a five-year-old who brought festive joy.

Sir Oliver Heald at the General Election count. Picture: Georgia BarrowSir Oliver Heald at the General Election count. Picture: Georgia Barrow

A UNISON trade union survey found that almost 80 per cent of staff at East and North Herts NHS Trust reported feeling more stressed due to short staffing.

Staff say they feel forced into working overtime due to staff levels, with the survey also finding that 66 per cent of staff felt their home life was being affected by this.

Our sister title, the Welwyn Hatfield Times, found more than 20 per cent of all sick leave by Lister and New QEII staff is due to stress.

A East and North Herts NHS Trust spokesperson said: "The trust recognises the challenges facing all those in healthcare, the importance of managing stress in the workplace and the impact it can have on the individual and an organisation."

Bim Afolami, the Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden. Picture: Sasha BakerBim Afolami, the Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden. Picture: Sasha Baker

Next up, a former volunteer raised more than £11,000 to fund a new 'cuddle bed' for a Letchworth-based hospice.

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Karen Gilbert from Stevenage had volunteered at Garden House Hospice Care's inpatient unit for eight years, and experienced the true value of her care when her husband Alan was admitted into Garden House two years ago.

In his final days, Alan was cared for in a 'cuddle bed' - specially designed to better facilitate hugging. Karen and her family raised £11,181 in Alan's memory, which will go towards a new cuddle bed for the unit.

Stephen McPartland retained his seat in Stevenage. Picture: Jacob SavillStephen McPartland retained his seat in Stevenage. Picture: Jacob Savill

Karen said: "Having a hug with the ones you love means so much at any age. Being close to Alan and just lying with him was so comforting for the both of us."

We also covered the first December election since 1923, with the Conservative party holding their seats in Stevenage, North East Herts, Hitchin and Harpenden, North East Beds and Mid Beds.

Stephen McPartland, Sir Oliver Heald, Bim Afolami, Richard Fuller and Nadine Dorries all headed to Westminster last month as Parliament re-opened.

As Christmas came around, we reported on the five-year-old who personified the season of giving, and Hitchin's first eco-friendly Christmas stall.

Hundreds of youngsters and parents got creative at Hitchin's first Eco Grotto at the weekend. Picture: aimvphotographyHundreds of youngsters and parents got creative at Hitchin's first Eco Grotto at the weekend. Picture: aimvphotography

Five-year-old Oscar and Home-Start Herts made food hampers for families and youngsters left Wholesome Weigh's Eco Grotto dreaming of a Green Christmas.

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