East End nurse who led child protection unit retires after 30 years

A nurse who founded a revolutionary child protection unit in Whitechapel is to retire after more than 30 years of service.

Maureen Pollex, 61, counts the Hatfield Suite as the pinnacle of her achievements as a ward sister for the Royal London Hospital.

The facility was opened in 1988 following a review by the government which called for more sensitive and child-friendly procedures in dealing with abused children.

Ms Pollex was instrumental in bringing about the unit and she became the only nurse in the Greater London area directly involved in such a project - most other units are run by police.

She retires this week from her role as both senior sister for safeguarding and liaison sister for paediatric A&E.

Ms Pollex, who lives in east London, said: “The suite was originally an experimental unit to interview children on video rather than writing everything longhand. It’s now become the norm.

“It’s very important that these children are in a child-friendly environment and looked after by child-friendly staff but that wasn’t always the case.”

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Ms Pollex has headed the department for more than 20 years but also works with families of children that come into A&E at the Royal London.

She first joined the hospital in 1982 after completing her training at St Mary’s in Paddington.

Despite not having any children of her own, the dedicated nurse said she always wanted to work with young people.

She added: “To be in this profession you’ve got to be someone who enjoys fun and people. It also helps being a bit nutty if you’re working with children!”

Her colleagues, who have called her “inspirational”, threw a farewell party for her on Friday.