Earlier this week [Tuesday 19th January] The Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of the Nursing Now campaign, spoke to nurses with a variety of different roles at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust about their experiences during the pandemic and why their profession is so important.

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) employ 2,428 nurses and midwives, and on the 8th December 2020 May Parsons, a matron at the Trust, made international headlines after delivering the first COVID-19 vaccine in the world to Margaret Keenan. Since then, a total of 447,329 vaccines have been delivered across the Midlands, with more taking place every day.

Her Royal Highness hailed the vital role that nurses are playing in the vaccine roll-out and spoke with Caroline Rudd and Judith Smith, two retired nurses who first met when they began training as nurses working at UHCW in 1978 and have returned to the NHS together to help with the vaccination programme in care homes. The Duchess also spoke to Professor Nina Morgan, Chief Nursing Officer and Vasu Lingappa, a Critical Care Outreach Practitioner about caring for critically ill patients and the impact that this can have on staff wellbeing.

During the call, Her Royal Highness heard about the professionalism and adaptability of nurses at the Trust. Joe Colby, Lead Nurse for Gastroenterology, told The Duchess how he had originally worked in a high street bank before training to become a nurse. Judith and Caroline, who are now employed by Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, also spoke to The Duchess about how they were proud to answer a call from the NHS to re-join the workforce and help fight back against COVID-19 by delivering vaccines to patients and staff alike.

The Duchess of Cambridge, said: “You hear time and time again about the amazing things nurses up and down the country are doing - going that extra mile. It’s the things that are not part of the training […] but the things that come from your heart, and I think that’s what matters so much now: these acts of kindness to the patients you’re looking after.”

Professor Nina Morgan, Chief Nursing Officer at UHCW NHS Trust, said: “We were incredibly proud that members of our hard-working Nursing team had the opportunity to share their experiences with the Duchess of Cambridge. It was such a special way to acknowledge how hard everyone has been working.

“The Duchess was genuinely interested in learning more about the challenges our staff were facing professionally and the impact on their home lives, as well as the way everyone has pulled together during these challenging times. We are all very grateful to the Duchess for her support and for taking the time to listen to our stories. It has been a fantastic boost for morale.”

Throughout the pandemic, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have met NHS staff in person and virtually to hear about the remarkable work they have been doing throughout the pandemic and pass on their thanks. Last week The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke with frontline workers and counsellors about the mental health impact of the COVID-19 crisis for those working on the frontline, and why it is vital that they are able to reach out for support at such a critical time.

The Nursing Now campaign, of which The Duchess has been patron since 2018, aims to raise the profile of nurses globally. Nursing Now works with partners around the world to advocate for more nurses in leadership positions and help them access better education and training, while also supporting them to share research and evidence of effective practice.