William and Kate 'share grief' of colleagues of first NHS consultant to die with coronavirus
2 April 2020, 21:16 | Updated: 2 April 2020, 21:18
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have offered their condolences to the colleagues of the first frontline NHS consultant to die after contracting coronavirus.
The royals “shared in our grief”, staff from Queen’s Hospital Burton in the West Midlands revealed after the royals phoned them on Wednesday to talk about consultant Amged El-Hawrani.
Mr El-Hawrani, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon, died at Leicester Royal Infirmary on Saturday after contracting Covid-19 from his patients.
The couple shared sympathies over their loss and praised the workers' “incredible” efforts.
Adrian Thompson, an ENT consultant at the Burton on Trent hospital where Mr El-Hawrani had worked, said: “I have worked with Amged for 14 years at Queen’s Hospital. He was a close friend and colleague and was highly respected by everybody who worked with him.
“We are all aware of the seriousness of Covid but when it takes the life of one of our own it hits us a bit harder.
“Their royal highnesses were very empathetic in offering their condolences and they were really sorry to hear we had lost a colleague.”
William and Kate spoke via speaker phone from their Norfolk home to hospital staff in Staffordshire whose shifts had been arranged so they were able to briefly step away from their duties without patient care suffering.
Taking part were Gavin Boyle, chief executive of University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, and six staff from Queen’s Hospital Burton, including Mr Thompson and nurses of various grades who working in departments ranging from intensive care to emergency.
Emily Johnson, a hospital spokeswoman who listened in on the 25 minute conversation, said it had boosted morale, adding: “It genuinely felt like they shared in our grief.”
During the call the duke said: “We’d just like to say from the two of us how proud we are of all of you, and how amazingly you are all doing under extreme circumstances.”
William went on to say: “I know all of you see this as your job and that you get on with it, but this is a different level and you are doing an incredible job.
“The whole country is proud of you so thank you for everything you’re doing and all the hours you are putting in.”
William and Kate also called staff at University Hospital Monklands in North Lanarkshire and Kate urged them to look after themselves while they were being pushed to the limit.
The duchess said: “You’re stretched in all sorts of ways looking after the patients in your care under such extreme circumstances.
“But you also need to be able to make sure you support yourselves, and each other. It must be so hard but I’m glad to hear that you’re currently getting all the support you need.”
Dr Marion Devers, the deputy chief of medical services at Monklands in Airdrie said the call had “refuelled” the staff.
NHS Scotland chose the hospital because it was one of the first north of the border to begin treating Covid-19 patients two months ago.
Dr Devers said of the call: “It was a great opportunity to reflect. It really refuelled us.”
The call comes as the coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 940,000 people worldwide and over 47,000 deaths have been recorded.
As of April 2, the total number of confirmed reported deaths of people who tested positive for coronavirus in hospitals in England is 2,698, up by 561, NHS England said.
The patients were aged between 22 and 100 years old, with 44 of those 561, who were aged between 25 and 100 years old, having no known underlying health condition.
The jump in coronavirus-related hospital deaths in the UK from 2,352 to 2,921 is an increase of 569 – the highest day-on-day rise since the outbreak began and up very slightly on yesterday’s rise of 563.