Hospital staff now at breaking point due to ‘harrowing' impact of Covid

New appeal launched by charity

Thursday, 28th October 2021 — By Tom Foot

Hampstead-Royal Free Hospital001-2016

Royal Free Hospital

PATIENTS and staff at the Royal Free have reached “breaking point”, sparking a fresh appeal for funds by the hospital’s charity.

A social media campaign has been launched to support the Hampstead hospital group’s 10,000 staff and 1.6million patients.

A similar appeal was launched last year at the height of the pandemic when the hospital was overrun by the virus.

While many believe the pandemic is over because the vaccine has reduced serious Covid infections and deaths, there has been a lasting impact that has left intensive care units and wards under intense strain.

After one of the hardest years ever experienced in the NHS, staff are “exhausted” and in danger of “burnout” as they cope with unprecedented waiting lists.

Many beds are taken up by patients requiring help with “long Covid” and persistent symptoms.

Paul Stein, executive director of income generation for the Royal Free Charity, told the New Journal: “We’ve launched our Breaking Point appeal to highlight the urgent need for more funds to support the Covid recovery across our local hospitals.

“Covid-19 has had a harrowing impact on exhausted NHS staff, people struggling with long Covid and patients who are waiting longer for treatment.

“We want to make sure the funding gets where it will have the biggest impact for the people who need it most. We believe that for people struggling with the impacts of the pandemic, there is no time to lose.”

He said donations would go toward supporting research into long Covid and getting patients into operating theatres more quickly, as well as respite spaces for staff who need to rest.

The Breaking Point appeal builds on last year’s Covid-19 campaign which raised £2.5million for the hospital’s charity.

The charity cannot fund patient services but it can pay for support packages for staff, including psychological programmes, and also accommodation for workers who may need to isolate away from home.

Last year it funded a free supermarket for staff that was used weekly by hundreds. It also ran a volunteer project that produced 50,000 NHS-grade surgical gowns for staff when PPE was in short supply.

Jon Spiers, chief executive of the Royal Free Charity, said: “Our staff and patients are at breaking point. We have launched an urgent new appeal to raise funds for our staff and patients.”

The chief executive of the hospital group, Caroline Clarke, added: “As we come out of the first wave, the NHS is in a perfect storm. There are three things.

“First of all we have lots of patients who have Covid in hospital, and recovering from Covid with symptoms of Covid.

“Secondly, we have very, very long waiting lists, the longest they have ever been. Thirdly, our emergency services are under extreme pressure.”

• People can support the appeal, which runs until December, by donating, fundraising, or by registering as a Breaking Point champion.
For more details, visit the charity’s website:

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