In very refreshing news among this challenging period that saw many of the Royal engagements cancelled or postponed, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the London Ambulance Centre in Croydon to meet the staff who have been taking NHS 111 calls from the public and thanked them for the vital work they are doing.
— London Ambulance Service (@Ldn_Ambulance) March 20, 2020
It was an embargoed engagement. The couple visited yesterday, but Palace released the information today. Due to the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, many Royal Engagements have been cancelled or postponed. The visit came amid the pressured period of our life when a morale boost was really necessary. It is the situation like this when we see the real magic of the Royal Family when Royals can come out and lead the nation by example.
Following government social distancing guidelines, William and Catherine are staying inside their London Residence Kensington Palace with their three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. George and Charlotte are on school break after Government closed down the schools and other institutions to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
Another point to notice is the lack of Royal Reporters. The couple was accompanied by the Kensington Palace photographer Adam Vallance who took the beautiful pictures of the visit.
The London Ambulance Service takes NHS 111 calls through its centres in Croydon and Barking, which have currently been receiving at least five times the usual rate of calls. The London Ambulance Service also operates two 999 control rooms which have been receiving nearly 8,000 calls a day that had quadrupled since the crisis began.
During the visit, William and Catherine spoke to staff members and the Chief Executive of the London Ambulance Service, Garrett Emmerson, about how they are dealing with the increase in demand on the NHS 111 service. The couple took the precautions and did not shake hand with any of the staff members.
From Daily Mail’s report,
William asked: ‘I imagine that you are concerned that a lot of [the public] don’t have internet access, therefore [having] 111 to call is really important.’
Dr Nortley-Meshe replied: ‘Online can only take you so far. If you need a clinician, you need a clinician.’
Kate asked how many of the calls reflected people’s mental health issues. Mr Emmerson said: ‘Quite a large volume. People with mental health issues are more concerned about coronavirus and how to manage that’. The duke also repeatedly asked whether members of the public could help by volunteering.
Mr Emmerson replied: ‘We are actively looking at that. We have a lot of former employees, retired employees, people who used to work in our service but are now in other fields, for instance the airline industry.
‘As staff are laid off, they are saying, “Can we bring our skills back?” It extends beyond call handling and front line clinicians into support functions like vehicle maintenance. How to put more vehicles out there than we have probably ever done before. We are talking to other organisations about how they might be able to help us.’
‘How quickly can you train up people to become call centre volunteers?’ William asked.
Mr Emmerson replied: ‘In terms of call handling, pretty quickly.’
The Duke and Duchess also 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. A very interesting meeting happened during the visit. From Daily Mail,
Prince William bumped into a former Buckingham Palace telephonist who movingly told him how his late mother used to sneak in and sit with them to answer calls. He spoke to 111 call handler Paula White, who told him about Princess Diana’s hi-jinks and how she even brought William in to see them when he was a baby.
He joked, ‘Was I behaving myself? A rowdy little child? Was I well behaved?’ I said, ‘I can’t say sir – the press is here!’
‘Explaining how Diana used to sneak into the switchboard room after she was engaged she said, ‘I worked there when his mum was getting married. ‘She used to be taking calls with us. I saw the ring!’ He was just a little baby when she brought him down.’
Having a visit from the couple was a big boost for staff morale, Paula said. ‘It’s lovely. It’s like a pat on the back. It just raises morale.’
From Mirror’s report,
Attempting to lighten an understandably tense atmosphere, William said: “I think we are all going to have a lot of TV to watch in the next few weeks.”
He said, “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.
Not only are NHS staff and emergency workers responding to the needs of the public, they – like the rest of us – are concerned about their families, friends and loved ones. They need our support as much as we need theirs.”
As the Covid-19 is projected to get worse, William suggested future royal visits might have to be via video link – a point confirmed today by Kensington Palace who insisted the couple will change their diaries to find ways to help out.
They also heard about when members of the British public can help alleviate pressure on the system by using advice available online at nhs.uk/coronavirus before contacting 111. Continuing from Mirror,
Speaking to a group of handlers, Kate wearing a pink trouser suit, said: “It’s amazing. You’re doing such a great job bringing everyone together and providing that, the support system for the whole public.”
While the couple sanitised their hands twice during the visit, one member of staff forgot the new rules when she asked William and Kate for a photograph and without thinking reached out to shake their hands.
“Don’t shake hands!” William remonstrated with a laugh as he brought down his other hand to cut her off. But he swiftly added as they posed for a picture: “We can do a photograph if we are not within a metre of each other.”
About the Royal visit, Mr Garrett Emmerson told that William had suggested that royal visits might change as the virus progresses through the population. From Daily Mail, “We are all learning new ways of behaving socially as a result of this, and indeed new ways of working,’ he explained. ‘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.’
In a Statement about the visit, Prince William said,
“The last few weeks, and more recent days have been understandably concerning with the continuing spread of coronavirus. But 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.
Not only are NHS staff and emergency workers responding to the needs of the public, they – like the rest of us – are concerned about their families, friends and loved ones. They need our support as much as we need theirs.
That is why 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 was also brilliant to see the great online tools for those with mild symptoms or worries.
All of us have a part to play if we’re going to protect the most vulnerable. That means acting on the latest expert advice, staying home if we or those we live with have symptoms, and avoiding non-essential contact to help reduce the spread of the virus.”
A video of the visit.
For the visit, Duchess of Cambridge was looking very pretty and professional in Marks & Spencer Dark Rose suit. Thanks to Middleton Maven for the quick id.
Catherine wore M&S Wool Blend Double Breasted Blazer. The £99 blazer is described as, “The sharp cut and double-breasted shape of this Autograph blazer are perfect for days when you want to make an impact. Tailored fit with added stretch for a figure-defining silhouette. Italian wool-blend fabric creates a luxuriously smooth drape. Contrast button fastening. Coordinating lining with chain loop for hanging.”
It is currently available on M&S official store in all sizes.
Duchess paired the blazer with matching M&S Wool Blend Slim Leg Cropped Trousers. The £59 trousers are described as,” Show up to any event looking polished in these smart trousers. Slim fit design with zip, hook and bar fastening. Front pintucks and two functional side pockets. ” It is also available in all sizes.
A Small Tidbit-> @prince_scarf on Twitter noted that the colour of Catherine’s outfit matches with the uniform of NHS Staff. Such a lovely gesture. Duchess has always used her wardrobe as small sartorial nodes to pay respect. The people working in the healthcare sector definitely deserve every bit of our respect.
Underneath the blazer, Catherine wore a white round neck top that she also wore during Cyprus visit in 2018.
Duchess teamed up the look with Hugo Boss Staple P90-L Pumps. The pumps are an old model debuted during a visit to the Natural History Museum in London in November 2016.
Catherine was wearing a new pair of earrings today. She wore Missoma Gold Small Molten Hoops. Thanks to @replicateroyals for the id. The $84 Gold Small Molten Hoops from Magma Collection have an open shape and fasten with butterfly backs. The Magma collection is inspired by the gently oscillating swell of free-flowing lava.
The visit was a lovely surprise and I look forward to seeing how the Royals are adapting to the changing environment while following the precaution and Government advisory. Stay safe everyone.