Watch: Duke of Cambridge speaks to London hospital staff
Prince William called staff at one of London’s hospitals shortly before the capital was forced to declare a major incident because of rising COVID-19 cases.
William chatted to members of the team from Homerton University Hospital in north-east London on Thursday, hearing about how they had to deal with the highest number of admissions since the pandemic began in the week before.
The hospital had more than 200 COVID-19 patients on its wards when the Duke called, and staff had been moved to new roles to help cope.
William revealed during the call that he and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, talk to their children everyday about NHS staff.
He said: “A huge thank you for all the hard work, the sleepless nights, the lack of sleep, the anxiety, the exhaustion and everything that you are doing, we are so grateful. You are all in my thoughts.
“Catherine and I and all the children talk about all of you guys every day, so we’re making sure the children understand all of the sacrifices that all of you are making so thank you so, so much.
“Good luck, we are all thinking of you.”
Staff also told William, 38, about the creation of a ‘wobble room’ in the hospital, created using funds from NHS Charities Together.
It gives them somewhere to go if they need a moment to relax, and comes as the hospital sought out ways to help the staff’s wellbeing.
Dr Carlo Prina, consultant physician and clinical lead for acute ambulatory care, told the Prince: “So this is worse than the first wave. I think that’s the first thing we want to say.”
He discussed the detail of the spikes in admissions in 2020, adding that staff at all levels of training were now helping out.
He added: “That sounds quite bleak and I don’t want it to sound so bleak, but the horror of the situation has been met by an incredible effort of people coming together.”
He went on to say: “Our medical and nursing workforces have never been more stretched but never been more together as a group, so the cohesiveness, the commitment to patient care is a wonder to behold and it’s a wonderful thing to see.
“I think that people are tired. People knew this was going to happen but we are still tired and between the two waves there was so much work to prepare for this wave, but also to try and get everything going again to get back to the levels they were.”
Speaking about the “wobble room” and other support for staff, chief nurse Catherine Pelley said: “For us this week, starting vaccinating has been one of the single most significant impacts on people feeling that there is a future out of this, and the queues out the door here where they have been vaccinating have been really kind of hopeful for people.
“But the support we need is stay at home, help us – because that will get us all out of this whatever our role is and we will get society out of this.”
William said: “It’s good that you and your team are keeping your spirits high and I always find that having some sort of sense of humour through everything is very important, otherwise we all go mad.”
On Friday afternoon, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, declared a major incident in the capital’s hospitals. Cases in the city are up to more than 1,000 per 100,000 people, with one in 30 reported to have coronavirus.
In a statement, the mayor said he had taken the decision “because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point. If we do not take immediate action now, our NHS could be overwhelmed and more people will die.”
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He added: “Our heroic doctors, nurses and NHS staff are doing an amazing job, but with cases rising so rapidly, our hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed. The stark reality is that we will run out of beds for patients in the next couple of weeks unless the spread of the virus slows down drastically.”
He has asked for additional powers from Boris Johnson, the prime minister, which could see him close places of worship in London and require masks to be worn in some outdoor settings.
Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust operates in the hospital and community across 75 sites in the City of London and the London borough of Hackney. In addition to Homerton University Hospital, the Trust manages services at St Leonard's Hospital, Shoreditch and Mary Seacole Nursing Home.
William and his wife Kate became joint patrons of NHS Charities Together in December 2020.
The couple are back in Norfolk with their children during the third national lockdown, having retreated up to their home at Anmer Hall before London was placed into Tier 4 restrictions.
George and Charlotte are being homeschooled again, as their school, Thomas’s Battersea, is closed in line with national restrictions.
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