Patients visiting Transform Hospital Group’s Pines Hospital may do a double-take during their stay – as identical twins Clare Evans and Nicola Hague are both nurses at the same healthcare facility, with Nicola in the clinic, and Clare on the ward.
The 34-year-old siblings, who have lived in Shaw, near Oldham, their entire lives, have identical careers as well as looks and enrolled in nursing together when they left school on the same day, aged 16 years old.
“We always wanted to work in healthcare,” Clare explained. “We studied the same course in Health and Social Care for three years at college, and then each went on to complete a degree in nursing at Salford University.
"Later, when we qualified, we went to work for the NHS. I initially worked on a respiratory ward, but it really wasn’t for me and I considered changing my career. I really wanted to give my patients the care they deserved, but it was so busy that it was difficult to get to know individual patients at all. There were also mountains of paperwork to be completed, which meant I didn’t have time to speak to patients properly.”
Nicola added: “We just always wanted to do it together. We’ve got that twin bond; we still want to do everything together! Not only do we work together, but we go shopping together, we live near one another, plus we chat on the phone every day. I think the longest we’ve ever been apart is a week – but even then we’ll still be texting and calling constantly.”
When Clare saw an opportunity to work at a private hospital that carried out orthopaedic and cosmetic surgery, though, it was Nicola who went for – and successfully got – the job.
Clare said: “I saw the opportunity online and told Nicola about it – she successfully applied, then 12 months later she recommended me for a job there too! That’s when we first started to work together.”
When Clare joined Transform Hospital Group at The Pines Hospital in Manchester, it was only a matter of time before she suggested to Nicola that she might want to make the move there too.
Nicola said: “I originally worked on the ward as a ‘bank’ nurse, while Clare worked in the clinic. In December last year, I began a permanent role, working full time as a clinic nurse, and Clare’s part-time in the ward. It’s quite strange how things have worked out, but we both love what we do.”
The power duo are regularly mistaken for being one another by patients in the ward, so they each wear a different colour of nurse tunic to set themselves apart. Although quite often, patients still become confused by who is who and don’t often believe it when Nicola and Clare state they indeed have a twin at the same hospital.
Nicola said: “Patients do get confused, as they might see both of us at different stages of their treatment journey and think that we’re one and the same person! So, rather than having them think that one Superwoman is looking after them, I warn them that my twin sister works on the ward, as I see them at an earlier stage than Clare.
“Even our surgeons have found it hard to tell us apart when we’re in scrubs. But the uniforms we wear are slightly different, so it’s easier for people to tell us apart when we’re wearing those.
“When Clare was off on maternity leave, people were really confused as to why ‘she’ was at work when it was actually me. I often have to tell people ‘I’m Clare’s twin sister,’ and most of them can’t believe it! It’s quite funny really.”
Nicole and Clare agree that working at The Pines is the best move they’ve made in their healthcare careers. Nicola explained that they both particularly enjoy working in the private sector as they have the opportunity to spend more one-to-one time with certain patients, and to bond with them during their journey too.
“Transform Hospital Group is a great company to work for,” Nicola explained. “When I started my permanent role, the induction training was very thorough and straightforward, which helped me to hit the ground running. And I appreciate the flexibility.
“There are fewer patients to each nurse here, and so we have time to deliver first class levels of care. Our patients have high expectations, because they’re paying for their treatment, so it’s very satisfying to be able meet – and hopefully exceed - them.”
It’s clear that they’re delivering standards of care that their patients appreciate. Even if some of them can’t tell the twins apart!
“I love getting to know our patients,” Clare said. “Just the other day, a breast augmentation patient I’d been looking after gave me a bouquet of flowers. It’s wonderful to be able to give patients a really personal service.”
Nicola agrees. She added: “Everyone at The Pines works together as a team, and within a few weeks of joining I knew everyone, because they’re so friendly. I love seeing our patients as they progress through their journey with us, because I see them before their procedure to take their bloods, support our surgeons in their patient interactions – for example, acting as a chaperone in consultations – and then I conduct their post-op calls and post op appointments.
“You build a real rapport with your patients here. They’re usually nervous and feeling a bit vulnerable when they begin their treatment journey, but as time goes on they become so confident. What they say most often is that that they wish they’d had their procedure sooner.”
Clare meets patients at the admission stage and likes to make sure that they’re completely comfortable from the start. “In the ward we have a mixture of overnight stays and day cases, and I always make sure I pop in and check on my patients regularly,” she said. “However, because of Covid regulations, they aren’t able to bring a friend or family member with them for support, so I do my best to calm their nerves and make it a less stressful time.
“The good nurse-to-patient ratio is what makes all the difference for me. Not only is it less stressful for the nurses, but I’m able to build a better rapport with the patients. I can check on them regularly to make sure they’re having the best experience possible while they’re with us – and that’s the main reason I wanted to be a nurse in the first place.”