It’s been two years since the first COVID-19 patient was admitted to the Royal Free Hospital. Since then, thanks to the generosity of our supporters and volunteers, we’ve been able to go beyond NHS funding to help staff, patients and COVID-19 research – let’s take a look:

During the first wave, we provided urgent support for staff working in difficult conditions. The ‘Free at the Free’ supermarket was set up in the Rec Club so that tired staff could pick up essential grocery items without facing long supermarket queues and bare shelves.

Food for heroes

Our Covid emergency appeal raised an incredible £2.2 million. As the pandemic continued throughout 2020 and 2021, we used these funds to provide psychological and emotional support to NHS staff. This included a free phone support line, and funding occupational health psychologist posts.

We provided accommodation so staff could stay close to the hospitals they worked in, providing over 3,800 nights of rest and recuperation.

While staff battled a tough winter, we helped to make sure that donations of hot meals and refreshments from our local community made their way to staff working on Covid-affected wards.

A wave of support from the local community saw nearly 600 volunteers help to make 50,000 protective surgical gowns for ICU staff at the Hampstead gown factory.

Our volunteers also embraced technology to help patients keep in touch with loved ones through virtual visiting, and providing digital support to those attending video appointments.

We supported COVID-related research with the award of a £250,000 research grant to the trust. The grant is an overarching award covering 12 work packages that cut across clinical and laboratory research, and staff and patient experience. The individual projects include looking at the impact of COVID infection in kidney patients, and the effects of COVID on pregnancy.

During the national vaccination programme, the Rec Club was transformed again this time into a vaccination centre for the local community. Our volunteers supported the delivery of over 90,000 vaccines at the StoneX Stadium.

Our recent Breaking Point appeal shifted the focus from the immediate impact of COVID to the longer term consequences. Thanks to the amazing community response, we will continue to support staff at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust with vital rest spaces.

It will allow us to fund digital innovations that will help reduce waiting lists and research into long Covid, so that people struggling with this devastating long-term condition can get the support they need.

None of us could have predicted the impact the pandemic would have on staff and patients across our hospitals, but our supporters, fundraisers and volunteers allow us to continue to support them through whatever comes next. Thank you.