She was only meant to be in the job for a matter of weeks but now when she takes a day off, patients ask after her.

Tolworth Hospital receptionist Shamar McKenzie began as a temporary worker on a four-week contract, but was asked to stay on after building close relationships with patients and colleagues.

She has now been working in the Acacia unit for about 18 months.

She said: “The staff here are brilliant. They make my job easy and I love working with them. Doctors, managers, everyone. Without good staff it’s hard to go into a job.

“Once you’re in a job and you really enjoy what you’re doing it makes your work so much easier.”

Mrs McKenzie, 32, who lives in Balham, likes to spend time with patients at the hospital, once sitting with an elderly woman who was anxious about getting into an ambulance with paramedics.

She added: “She was just a bit nervous. I tried to calm her down – she was very tearful. I offered her a box of tissues.

“I love talking to the patients. If I can help I try to give my all.”

The odd patient may fly off the handle, Mrs McKenzie said, but they always come back to apologise.

Manager Chrissie Harper said: “One of the great things about Shamar is she always has a smile on her face – to be greeted by someone who’s got a friendly face is great.

"She’s really made an impact in the short time she’s been with us.

“She knows these people on a first-name basis. They just feel reassured – if she’s not there, they ask for her.

“It’s the fact that she shows such kindness and empathy with anyone who she deals with. It doesn’t seem to matter who the person is. She goes above and beyond.”

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