Spotlight on Gemma Wright, Paediatric Nurse in Children’s Emergency Department (CHED)

Mum of four, Gemma Wright, has recently made an appearance on national TV following our Emergency Nurses, sharing her story about why she became a nurse.

With a background working in mental health and care assistant roles, Gemma was undecided as to whether she wanted to move into nursing or midwifery. It was an experience with her youngest son, Theo, that made her mind up.

“I’d had three healthy babies, I never expected to have any neonatal stay, or a poorly baby,” said Gemma, who’s son was rushed to intensive care after he was born. “It was just the experience of seeing how the nurses were with Theo, it totally made my mind up that I was more interested in looking after the babies than mums!”

Gemma applied to study her access to nursing course, even re-sitting a GCSE exam just 48 hours after Theo was born! Not one to shy away from the hard stuff, Gemma achieved what she needed. Not only that she finished her nursing degree in the middle of a pandemic, while also looking after four children and after becoming a single mum.

Fast forward to 2023 and Gemma has worked in the Children’s Emergency Department (CHED) for three years. According to Gemma, the joy of working in A&E is the variety of patients she gets to see, and her team.

“I absolutely love it. We have the best team. We are like a little family. Sometimes it’s chaos, but we have really good laughs as well, and working with children is very different to working on the adult side. We’re always blowing bubbles, using toys and distractions, trying to keep it fun.”

Being a mum, she knows how parents can feel when they bring their littles ones to CHED.

“I’ve had that experience of having a very unwell child, and my others have had bumps and breaks.”

She adds: “In the job we do it’s very important that we treat the parents as well as the children. Sometimes it’s more about treating the parents’ anxiety. Their child’s poorly and they’re the most precious thing to them in the entire world. To try and explain to the parents that they are safe and they’re going to be ok is sometimes half the battle.”

Gemma’s not just good with little ones. Her nursing skills were well and truly put to the test outside of work, two years ago, when her mum had a sudden cardiac arrest. Luckily, Gemma was in the right place at the right time and gave her mum nine minutes of CPR at home before paramedics arrived and took over. If it hadn’t been for her swift actions, her mum might not be here today.

“It took me a long time to accept that I had anything to do with it, I just felt I’d done what I needed to do. For a long time, I thought I’d hesitated for too long, but obviously I didn’t because we had a good outcome.”

Gemma says the main qualities needed to be an ED nurse are the ability to stay calm under pressure, adapt to different situations, and have resilience, and sometimes a good sense of humour helps too. “The job is a really serious job and we have to be switched on, and as a team we’re amazing at dealing with those situations. It’s about being there for each other. A lot of the way I deal with stuff is through humour. I think we use that a lot in ED here.”

You can catch Gemma’s story and the rest of Emergency Nurses: A&E Stories on ITVBe on Tuesday 24 October at 9pm. The entire series can be watched again on ITV X.