Porters – People who Make Places in Healthcare

Hospital portering teams are integral to the flow and function of every hospital and our award-winning team at University Hospital Derby & Burton is no exception.

The team performs duties which have direct, positive impact on the hospital’s successful performance – and every patient and stakeholder who interacts with the hospital. 

Porters at Derby are often the first and last touchpoints throughout the patient and clinician journey. In a ‘normal’ non-Covid year the team handles 78,000 patient-related moves, delivery of specimens, moving 2,000 tonnes of waste and of course, is the welcoming face at the start and end of a hospital visit.

…the RDH portering team continued to literally keep us all moving and got our patients in the right place at the right time. The team does this with compassion on a level of personalisation that makes our patients feel safe. The Portering team is a credit to the Trust and I am so proud to be able to say I work with them.”

Paul Brooks, MBE Director of Patient Experience, Estates and Facilities Management

Patient and non-patient care

The high performing Portering team consists of 153 porters who are part of a strong dedicated team of placemakers, supervisors and managers who make up the ISS contract.

The patient and non-patient porters provide vital frontline facilities in an environment where patient service runs site-wide 24 hours a day. The management team works together with the Trust to ensure that support is provided to an area experiencing high demands, without affecting the quality of service provided within the other departments.

Non-patient porters transport equipment, waste, mattresses, gas cylinders and other items that are key to the effective running of the hospital. Clear communication with clinical teams is vital and the dispatcher, who coordinates the logistics of the department, is linked to a bespoke software package for portering allocation and resource tracking.

Patient porters provide an extremely agile service which not only impacts the patients journey and experience within the hospital, but also plays a critical part (along with the clinical departments) in ensuring the continual patient flow through the hospital, allowing the right level of bed-capacity at the right time. 

Ensuring improvement through effective partnerships

The ISS management team creates their goals and objectives to align with the client strategy. The starting point for the ISS team is reviewing the feedback and data gathered from the client, patients and team to enable them to achieve a shared purpose. 

Our team is encouraged and empowered to make suggestions or observations to ensure improvement through effective partnerships. A recent example occurred around an issue with medical gases, an area that doesn’t usually fall under the remit of the Portering team.


Ownership in action

The increased demand for gases highlighted the fact there was no ownership of the process for returns and deliveries.  The responsibility lay with the pharmacy department, but as demand grew, it was difficult to control, a situation that could lead to shortages. On the suggestion of the porters, they now take full ownership of this process which has been commended by the Trust as a real positive step change and service improvement.


"Tom [Richardson, ISS Head of Portering] has put considerable effort into building relationships with the Emergency Department and Medical Assessment Unit teams. He has always been responsive and helpful. We are really looking forward to improving things further with Tom."

Helen Prescott, Helen Prescott – General Manager, Derby Acute Medicine Business Unit at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust

Award-winning teamwork

In 2021, the ISS Portering team won a prestigious IWFM Impact Award, which celebrates and showcases outstanding best practice which touches many areas of life. The Award was for for Team of the Year: Non-private sector; individually and collectively, porters are a vital pillar, supporting our hospitals and our communities. Read more about one of our placemakers at Derby, Avtar Samrai and the amazing Portering team here.

Learn more about our partnership-led approach