Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

'I was supposed to be on annual leave but came back the next day’

  • Comment
  • This is the fourth of our special reports based on interviews with nurses who treated patients caught up in the terror attack on the Manchester Arena
  • Earlier in the week we looked at the experiences of a nurse working in the emergency department, and also of directors of nursing
  • Don’t miss our overall special report: Manchester nurses showed ‘professionalism, empathy and compassion’, which was published on Monday

Many casualties from the Manchester attack ended up in theatre, cared for by experienced nursing staff like Mari Hopley, a senior staff nurse in anaesthetics and recovery at Stepping Hill Hospital.

”These were huge piece of shrapnel that had caused devastating injuries”

Mari Hopley

Knowing she was not working the next day, Ms Hopley called the hospital to offer her services and was called in. In her own words, she describes what happened next at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust.

“We were all kind of apprehensive,” she said. “I didn’t know what injuries I was going to have to deal with and what condition the patients were going to be in.

“What we got was shrapnel injuries – I didn’t realise until I was involved in this incident how serious these could be. These were huge piece of shrapnel that had caused devastating injuries – shattering bones and everything in their path.

“However, the patients I dealt with were all conscious with no airway problems, so at least that was good.

“There were some upper body, but mainly lower limb, injuries. We are used to dealing with trauma so our training just kicked in and we worked really well as a team. One lady was in surgery for 12 hours.

“When I got home I felt so proud of my colleagues, because everyone just got on with their job and the picture at Stepping Hill was repeated throughout Greater Manchester.

“The patients were fantastic. The two I dealt with were amazing. One lady was thanking everyone even though she was seriously injured.

“We get some negative press about the NHS but it was phenomenal how people came together – not just on the night but the following day and the days since – people need ongoing care.

“We were glad to be there when we were needed. Our lives were touched by this, but for those who were there during their attack their lives were changed forever, so it’s them we are thinking of now.”

“The NHS is just such a beautiful organisation to work for”

Victoria Dale

Over at nearby University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, theatre lead Victoria Dale also has nothing but praise for staff at Wythenshawe Hospital.

“The team were incredibly calm, systematic and took immense care of every single patient that came through theatre, to make sure what we were doing was in the patient’s best interests.

“They were professional beyond what I could ever have imagined and incredibly skilled – being able to deal with a situation like this as well as they did.

“The morning team that were due to come on duty came in early before their shift started, so those that had worked through the night could get some rest – although that didn’t really happen.

“We were all just in a state of shock. Those that were involved in the actual night were keen to get back to work as soon as possible to carrying on helping patients.

University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust

Exclusive: Manchester nurses praised for professionalism in wake of terror attack

From left to right: Victoria Dale, theatre lead, Mr David Jones, consultant general surgeon, Rachel Flatley, A&E sister and Janet Brennan, head of nursing

“I was supposed to be on annual leave but came back the next day, and there were other people that were meant to be off who came in.

“We have major incident plans in place and what we have learned is they work incredibly well. It was like clockwork from the managers of the hospital to our porters and cleaners – everybody was there and wanted to help the people of Manchester.

“Management has been fantastic, as has the support that we have been getting from our employee health and wellbeing team. There have been planned debriefs with everybody and it has not just been let’s get everybody in a room together, but tailored to individual members of staff.

“I am incredibly proud to work for this hospital and be part of the team here – the NHS is just such a beautiful organisation to work for and this has highlighted its strengths.

“Because we’re now very familiar with the patients, we’re all desperately keen for updates.

“Everyone at the trust is thinking about all the people and families of those involved in the attack – we wish them the best – they are very close to our hearts.”

  • Patients from the incident were also treated at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust
  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.