On 6 April, Her Majesty the Queen formally opened The Queen Elizabeth Unit at The Royal London Hospital more than year after it received its first patient.
The 155 critical care bed unit on the 14th and 15th floors of The Royal London Hospital was built in five weeks and began taking its first patients in December 2020. The opening of the unit enabled the hospital to triple its critical care capacity, meaning it could care for more patients severely ill with Covid-19 – at its peak this number was 156.
The ceremony took place on the unit with Her Majesty joining virtually from Windsor Castle and staff and patients joining from ward 15C. The Queen was introduced to a set of staff that worked throughout the pandemic in differing roles including nursing, medical and pastoral care. Her Majesty also met Asef Hussain, a patient treated for Covid-19 on the unit and his wife Shamima.
On meeting The Queen, Asef said:
“It was an honour and a privilege. She was a very warm lady who was interested in my story - it was lovely."
Mireia Lopez Rey Ferrer, a senior sister at The Royal London Hospital cared for patients during the first and second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Meeting The Queen was a lifetime achievement for her:
“I never thought I would have the opportunity to do something like this – it was inspiring to hear her talk and ask questions about our experiences.”
Lucie Butler, the Royal London’s director of nursing, and managing director of The Queen Elizabeth Unit said:
“I am delighted The Queen has now opened The Queen Elizabeth Unit. We are very proud of all that we have achieved during the pandemic and of the staff that worked tirelessly. I am glad Her Majesty got to hear their stories.”
Jackie Sullivan, chief executive officer of The Royal London and Mile End hospitals added:
“It was an honour to host Her Majesty the Queen. It has been a challenging two years for our hospital, and the attendance of Her Majesty shows how much the care we provide to our patients is valued.”
After speaking to those who worked on the unit, a plaque was unveiled in front of a small audience on Her Majesty’s behalf by Sir Kenneth Olisa, the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, to formally open The Queen Elizabeth Unit.