Yesterday, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the London Ambulance Centre in Croydon to give their thanks to staff who have been taking NHS 111 calls during the coronavirus pandemic.
Prince William and Kate met with teams who are advising the public on their health options at this time, instead of heading to a hospital or doctor’s surgery, and potentially putting others at risk.
The Royals spoke to the Chief Executive of the London Ambulance Service, Garrett Emmerson, learning about how they are dealing with the increase in demand on the 111 service. They are taking five times the usual amount of calls.
Prince William said of their private visit: “Catherine and I were proud to visit staff working at NHS 111, to pass on our personal thanks, along with those of my grandmother and father, to staff working around the clock to provide care and advice to those that need it most.”
“It’s at times like this when we realise just how much the NHS represents the very best of our country and society – people from all backgrounds and walks of life with different experiences and skills, pulling together for the common good.”
The Covid-19 outbreak has cancelled garden parties, ceased investitures and put a stop to the Japanese state visit expected at Easter.
Yesterday, The Queen released her message to the public, reminding them that many battles had been overcome previously, whilst thanking experts. She also said her family was ‘ready to play our part’ going forwards.
Mr Emmerson said the Duke suggested royal visits might change as the virus progresses through the population. “We are all learning new ways of behaving socially as a result of this, and indeed new ways of working,” he said. “We were talking with the duke about potential future visits if we are in further stages of social distancing – we may be doing remote conferencing for events like this.
“That’s certainly a possibility in the coming weeks and months.”
Kate asked about calls to do with mental health issues, and how many were coming though.
Emmerson said: “Quite a large volume. It all feeds into each other. People with mental health issues are more concerned about coronavirus and how to manage that.”
One call handler – Tracy Pidgeon, 54 – who was working on the phones mentioned that Prince William said he was missing his role in the air ambulance, which he left in 2017. “He misses the helicopter, being on the front line. He just said he misses it,” she commented.
Ms Pidgeon, who normally has a management job but is currently helping out with calls, said: “He was asking about how busy we have been, and what shifts everybody was doing.
“We were saying everybody was working really hard.”
The British public can head to nhs.uk/coronavirus before contacting 111.
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