Joy Ongcachuy, from Stratford, started working at The Royal London Hospital in 2002.
One of her friends from her native Philippines had started working at St Bartholomew’s and recommended the trust as a great place to work. Keen to establish a new life for herself and her family in the UK, Joy hopped on a plane with 23 other Filipino nurses and joined The Royal London as a scrub nurse – a role she held until she was promoted last year to robotic lead nurse.
Growing up, Joy always wanted to be a nurse. She loves to look after people and is passionate about providing care to others. Her love of nursing has also rubbed off on her daughter, who is studying to be a nurse at London South Bank University. In January, her daughter will be joining Joy at The Royal London in a placement in the A&E department. “We’ll be able to come to work together!”
Joy beams with pride when she talks about her role at The Royal London. “I love The Royal London, it’s the best hospital! I love the environment, the people, the support we receive, and provide, to each other as a team. We are a family.”
Joy takes the concept of her Royal London family seriously. In particular, she makes sure that all new Filipino nurses feel welcomed and supported when they join the hospital. “Our original group of 23 is a bit smaller now, but we still celebrate together every year. And we’ve welcomed so many Filipinos into our family! This year we had two Christmas parties for the 35 Filipino nurses who work in theatres.”
The Royal London family pulled together on the night of 3 June 2017 when there was a terrorist attack on London Bridge. “I was working the night shift that night and I heard the anaesthetist’s bleep go off. We already had a really sick patient in one of our theatres, so I had to get our other theatres ready and pull a team of nurses, allied health professionals and operating department practitioners together.
“We opened an additional six theatres that night and everyone I called dropped everything they were doing to come to the aid of the patients. No one panicked; everyone was calm and so supportive.”
“A week later, there was another terrorist attack at Finsbury Park and I was working nights again. Maybe I shouldn’t work nights anymore!”
Even in times of extreme sadness, Joy lives up to her name and brings joy to everyone around her. Her giggles fill the room as she talks about her Officer of the British Empire award. “My daughter is so proud of me!
“I am glad I made the UK my home all those years ago – to be welcomed and recognised by Her Majesty is overwhelming, humbling and exciting all at once!”
Joy was awarded an Officer of the British Empire on 29 December 2018.