‘What would we do without you?’ – Prince Charles condemns attacks on NHS staff

The Prince of Wales paid a visit to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital yesterday, where he heard about the sharp increase in violence and abuse towards NHS staff, which he condemned as ‘unacceptable’.

Charles was visiting the hospital to meet with workers to thank them for their hard efforts and service during the pandemic. Prince Charles shared his shock after speaking to the workers, saying: “You can’t believe it, can you?”

“When I think of what it has been like for so long, and how many people have been lucky enough to have wonderful paramedics and ambulance staff coming to their rescue.

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“But now you find the situation rising – violence, attacks, verbal attacks, racial abuse and everything else.

“To me it’s unreal, unacceptable. Why attack the people who are trying to look after you?”

As a result, Charles asked to speak to paramedics and ambulance crew after learning about disturbing statistics which have shown a rise in the level of violence and abuse meted out to staff in recent months of the pandemic. The latest figures show that between April 2020 and January 2021, there were 529 violent incidents on NHS staff and volunteers. There have also been 834 incidents of verbal abuse and threats.

London Ambulance Service volunteer, James Holt, was once of the volunteers to met Prince Charles in a new staff wellbeing garden. Mr Holt told the Royal: “We get so used to the verbal abuse that we don’t ever report it. It’s only when you think about it, you realise how normalised it has become for us. It happens so regularly, we almost forget about it.”

 Zaidia Hussain left Charles almost speechless when she said she once had a knife pulled on her while on a call-out.

Ms Hussain said afterwards: “You have to be so aware of what’s around you when you go into a house, which shouldn’t be your focus. It should be the patient. I have managed to get two convictions (against people). One man racially abused me and then tried to hit me. And the second was a lady that pulled a knife on us.”

The Prince told some of the staff: “What would we do without you? I was very interested to hear about the things that you have had to put up with. It’s inexcusable. We owe you a huge debt of gratitude.”

The Prince of Wales heard how his Prince’s Trust has supported the sector by providing young people with job. (Clarence House)

The Prince’s Trust has provided the confidence and new skills to young people looking to get employment in the sector. (Clarence House)

The Prince of Wales was also visiting the hospital to see how his Prince’s Trust Health and Social Care programmes had supported them into NHS employment.

In the past year, The Prince’s Trust Health and Social Care Partnership has offered 820 jobs in the sector to young people.

Before taking part in the programmes, many young people had been long unemployed or lost their jobs during COVID-19. This programme helps build confidence and teaches new skills, additionally offering the chance to apply for jobs on completion.

The Prince of Wales heard about the ‘unacceptable’ abuse NHS staff and volunteers have had to put up with during the pandemic. (IMAGE: Clarence House).

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also joined Charles at the hospital.

The future King greeted him with a namaste, but Hancock attempted an elbow bump, with Charles moving his arms and then his legs. The Prince joked it was like doing the ‘true Hokey Cokey.’

Charles said the government was now going ‘all out’ with the vaccination programme, adding ‘especially the younger ones’. This week, vaccinations have opened to the over 18s.

“And they are queuing up,” Mr Hancock replied. Just last week, when the 25 and overs were allowed to book their jabs, the NHS booking site saw long virtual queues and more than 1 million vaccines were booked in the first day.

After the visit, a Clarence House Spokesperson said: “The Prince of Wales was shocked to hear that those who have done so much for all of us in this pandemic are the victims of abuse and violence from a small minority.

“NHS frontline staff and volunteers deserve our support, thanks and respect for the important work that they do.”

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