Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Royal Berkshire Hospital this afternoon on the final lap of their three day train tour around the UK to thank front line staff who ‘kept Britain moving’ during the pandemic.
Sixteen front line nurses and midwives from the RBH spoke to the Royal couple about the challenges they faced dealing with Covid, and how the health teams all pulled together to help each other.
The Duke and Duchess were greeted by the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust Chair Graham Sims and Acting Chief Executive Officer Nicky Lloyd. Chief Nursing Officer Caroline Ainslie and Sharon Herring, Director of Operations Networked Care & Lead for Patient and Public Involvement then introduced them to staff from the hospital’s maternity ward and cancer teams as well as nurse representatives on the Trust’s BAME Forum.
One of the staff members to meet the Royal couple was nurse Rafael Fernandes who won a Trust competition to design a badge commemorating 2020 as International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
After time with the staff, the Duke and Duchess spoke to three members of the Reading All Steel Percussion Orchestra (RASPO) whose performance provided a musical festive feel to the visit.
The couple then presented a spectacular three tier cake to the Trust as a ‘thank you’ for all their hard work over the last few months.
Speaking after the visit Graham Sims said: “We were very honoured the Duke and Duchess chose to visit the Royal Berkshire Hospital. It was a great opportunity for us to showcase the work we did during Covid and to highlight our achievements since the first wave of the pandemic and outline our plans for the future.
“We are very proud of the way the Trust has managed throughout this unprecedented period and it was very satisfying for us to get this Royal seal of approval for what we have achieved.”
Nicky Lloyd said: “The Duke and Duchess were so interested in hearing about our work at the RBH and getting a first hand picture from our teams about what it’s been like dealing with such a major event. As Graham has said, we are so very proud of everyone here for the way they adapted so quickly to new ways of working at the height of Covid – many people redeployed to other sites, some retrained, some returned to work after retiring. The whole Trust rallied round very quickly and magnificently to make sure we continued to care for our patients and the wider community.
“I’d also like to thank local people for the way they supported us too. We felt so appreciated and that made a difficult situation a lot easier to handle,” she said.
Prior to the Royal visit to Reading it was announced the Duke and Duchess had been named Patrons of NHS Charities Together and their visit to the RBH gave them chance to find out how some of the NHS Charities Together money allocated to the Trust has been spent. This has included a major refurbishment of staff showers and changing facilities and ongoing enhancement to areas to support staff wellbeing.
They were also updated on work for a permanent Wellbeing Centre and garden for staff which is being developed opposite the hospital funded by donations from generous local donors. NHS Charities Together funding will go towards kitting out the Centre which is due to open next summer.