Media Release

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge thank QEH staff for their care and compassion during the COVID-19 pandemic with special NHS birthday visit

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met with staff at the QEH in King's Lynn.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge talking with ODP Suzie Vaughan and her daughters Hettie and Bella flanked by Chief Nurse Libby McManus (left) and Chief Executive Caroline Shaw.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have praised staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust (QEH) and thanked the local community for supporting the NHS as it has responded to COVID-19 during a special visit to the hospital today.

The Duke and Duchess met members of Team QEH who have made personal sacrifices and showed true dedication to their patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic

Suzie Vaughan, an Operating Department Practitioner at QEH, who spent nine weeks apart from her children, was one of the guests from across the hospital and West Norfolk’s local community holding a socially distanced celebration following ‘saying thank you together’ clap to mark the NHS’s 72nd birthday.

The Royal couple met Suzie, whose video of her reunion with daughters Hettie, seven, and Bella, nine, became a social media phenomenon with more than 2.5 million views.

Suzie, who was with Hettie and Bella for the celebration, said: “It was a difficult decision but I wanted to keep the girls safe so they moved in with my sister.

“I worked on the COVID Intensive Treatment Unit and COVID Emergency Department during the pandemic. The past three months have been exhausting physically and emotionally and The Duke and Duchess’s visit is a recognition of the hard work and compassion  that everybody has put in to keep our patients safe.”

Staff across the Trust cared for more than 450 patients with COVID-19 in the first few months of the pandemic. 291 who tested positive for COVID, have since been discharged from QEH.

Frontline doctors and nurses, support teams and administration staff have all worked tirelessly to provide safe care for patients at the hospital. The site was split into zones to separate  COVID and suspected COVID patients from non-COVID patients, including creating an additional Emergency Department. New ways of working and technology were implemented at pace and staff were redeployed into new teams to support care.

Trust chairman, Professor Steve Barnett, said: “The past few months have been incredibly challenging for everyone at QEH, and for the wider NHS, as we have responded to this global pandemic.  I could not be more proud of how our staff have responded – always putting patients and their safety first.

“As the nation celebrates the NHS’s 72nd birthday and we mark our own hospital’s 40th anniversary, today’s visit by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is a testament to the high regard we all have for those who care for us when we need it the most.

“Both our staff and the local community, who have given us so much support over the past few months, should be rightly proud of themselves. We have an incredibly special relationship with our local community in West Norfolk, and today’s clap was about saying thank you for the unrivalled support we have received in recent months, for which we could not be more grateful.”