"How much did you get through?" Dr. Marie Fallon asked as she removed her outdoors coat. Dean had already been on the wards for thirty minutes reading over current notes, minus Trevor's he was pleased to see.
"Enough to be interested." Dean looked up. "I presume I'm not allowed to grill you about it?"
"You presume correctly." Marie clicked on the kettle in the nurses office. "That would be cheating."
"Am I allowed to ask if they're all still up on Camp Street?" Dean said and Marie pursed her lips. "Only reason I ask is because I pass the place on my way to my parents' house every month. Not that I'd ever go there, obviously."
"It was converted into flats three years ago." Marie said.
"So you wouldn't have gone there, obviously?" Marie raised her eyebrows at Dean.
"No!" Dean protested. "Although one does need to slow down at that corner. I'm a very safe driver."
"Well your out of luck anyway so stop fishing." Marie handed Dean a mug of coffee. "I wonder how the kids will do?"
"Ugh I'm old." Marie wrinkled her nose. "The care assistants. They're taking their National Standard exam today."
"Oh yes! I'd forgotten about that." Dean nodded. "I'm not sure if I agree with the fairness of that, you know. It can only be good that there is a standard for anyone working with ill people, but it's a fixed exam. Take Mrs Kennedy over in Occupational Therapy. What is she? Forty eight? Fifty? When's the last time she took an exam?" Dean explained. "It should be more tailored."
"Good point. Probably her 11+."
"And the form's bound to ask for existing qualifications. That's all well and good for the ones young enough to have sat them. Mrs. Kennedy is one of the best carers we have, she's done it for over twenty years. I just hope it comes across on paper against a string of GSCEs and a perfectly written 'why I want to be a nurse' essay."
"That's where her experience comes into it. Experience is invaluable." Marie argued.
"Absolutely but I bet the section for that is a two inch box crammed on the end of the sheet." Dean shrugged. "First place I'd look if I was hiring and firing. The papers get marked internally don't they?"
"By the admin. board. We only have about a hundred taking the exam in the hospital so they'll have results in a few hours. We've three on this ward. Ruth Stamper, Tilly Marsden, and John Poole. I think they're all in GSCE or O Level age group."
"Good. I'd hate to lose her ... any of them ... due to this piffle and I know you're smirking."
"Freudian slips 'R' us eh?" Marie sniggered. "Ruth's twenty two, Tilly's thirty two and John's twenty seven."
"She's thirty two? Really?" Dean was very surprised. He was thirty and he'd put Tilly at at least five years younger than that!
"She's a bit of a pixie eh? Ok I'll stop tormenting you. Yes, thirty two."
"So how do you know her then? You said you knew her personally." Dean tried to sound casual and just didn't manage at all.
"Oh we met a few years ago, quite a good few years actually. We kept in touch. I was delighted when she got this job so if those exams don't go the way I want I'll re-employ her as something else, just because I can." Marie grinned. "And speak of the devil." Tilly knocked and came into the nurses' office. "Hiya Tilly, how did it go?"
"Ok I think." Tilly exhaled loudly. "It's been sixteen years since I sat exams. I'd forgot how scary they are."
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