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Prince William hears of ‘horror’ of handling COVID surge at London hospital

Written by on 9 January 2021

Prince William has heard about the “horror of the situation” a London hospital is facing due to the dramatic rise in COVID-19 patients.

During a call to Homerton University Hospital in Hackney he spoke to doctors and nurses about the major crisis facing the NHS.

In a message of thanks he told them he was telling his own children on a daily basis about the sacrifices medical staff are making.

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Prince William held a video call with staff at the Homerton University Hospital in east London

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Dr Carlo Prina, consultant physician and clinical lead for acute ambulatory care, described how the severity of the situation had become clear before Christmas.

He told William: “Things probably hit a major crisis point around the four-day Christmas weekend which is when the already enhanced levels of staffing that we had were no longer adequate and we had to mobilise large amounts of extra doctors and nurses.

“Currently we have COVID patients on our surgical wards, on all of our medical wards, our paediatric ward, so we’ve had to move paediatric patients to another hospital and in our day unit.

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“We have had to give treatments that we would normally give on intensive care, something called non-invasive ventilation, an assisted form of breathing not quite being on a ventilator, we are using that on medical wards, and currently using that at about 150% of the level that we used at our peak in April.”

But praising the resilience of staff, Dr Prina added: “That sounds quite bleak I don’t want it all to sound bleak, the horror of the situation, the challenge of the situation has been met by an incredible effort of people to come together.

“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.”

Dr Carlo Prina said the challenge of the situation has been met 'by an incredible effort'
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Dr Carlo Prina said the challenge of the situation has been met ‘by an incredible effort’

In the past week, Homerton University Hospital has seen their highest number of admissions since the pandemic began.

Over 200 COVID patients are currently being cared for and staff are taking on new roles to help with the ongoing demand.

Prince William told the group of six staff that his thoughts were with everyone within the NHS, and described how he was making sure Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis were aware of the difficult jobs they were doing.

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He said: “A huge thank you to all of you for all the hard work, the sleepless nights, the lack of sleep, the stress, the anxiety, the exhaustion, and everything that you’re doing, we are so grateful.

“You’re all in my thoughts and Catherine and I and all the children talk about all of you guys every day, so we’re making sure the children understand the sacrifices that you’re making.”

Throughout last year the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge regularly raised awareness of the mental strain the pandemic was having on emergency workers.

Chief nurse Catherine Pelley told William about the "wobble room" that has been set up as a space where staff could take time to relax
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Chief nurse Catherine Pelley told William about the ‘wobble room’ where staff could take time to relax

Talking to chief nurse Catherine Pelley, he asked how they were being supported, and heard about the “wobble room” that has been set up as a space where staff could take time to relax.

Ms Pelley said: “We’ve probably all individually and collectively gone through the highs and lows over the past few months and at times it’s felt incredibly overwhelming and at times it’s felt much more as though we’ve got hope, there’s kind of light coming, and that we know we’ll get out of this.

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“And we’ve tried to respond with lots of different things from the wobble room, card from the chief exec, chocolates, I make cakes, all those kinds of things, but it has been difficult.

“I have to say I think this week for us starting vaccinating has probably had one of the single most significant impacts on people feeling like there is a future out of this, and the queues out the door downstairs here, where they’ve been vaccinating, have been really hopeful for people.”

At the end of last year William and Kate became joint patrons of NHS Charities Together.