Welcome from Caroline Clarke

We have been celebrating our amazing nurses and midwives at the Royal Free London (RFL) this week to mark International Nurses Day.
Our nursing and midwifery colleagues played a huge part in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them were redeployed to new roles to support colleagues in unfamiliar areas of the trust.  Their kindness and compassion has been a shining light.

Their ability to respond to the challenges of the last year within their own roles as well supporting colleagues across the trust has been incredible to see. Our nurses and midwives have gone above and beyond for our patients and each other.  I am so proud of everything they have done and continue to do.

You can read more about how we are celebrating our nursing and midwifery teams on our website.

Kind regards

Caroline Clarke

Group chief executive
Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

StoneX Stadium open for COVID-19 vaccinations

As part of the biggest vaccination programme in the NHS’s history, the RFL has partnered with StoneX Stadium, home of Saracens Rugby Club, to open a large-scale vaccination centre.

People in the priority groups as set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation are being vaccinated at the centre.

There are many slots available, and members of the public can book their appointment by clicking here or calling 119. We would be grateful if you could share this message widely through your channels.

Find out more on our website.

Call NHS 111 first

Our emergency departments and urgent treatment centres are extremely busy. Please encourage members of the public to call NHS 111 first if they think they need to attend our emergency departments for an urgent, but not serious or life-threatening, medical need.

NHS 111 aims to make it easier and safer for patients to get the right treatment at the right time. It means that if patients need to be seen at an emergency department, an appointment can be booked via NHS 111.

By contacting NHS 111 first – whether online or by phone – for an urgent, but not serious or life-threatening medical need, people will:

  • speak with a healthcare professional earlier, and get the right treatment first time
  • be able to arrange an urgent face-to-face appointment, if needed
  • avoid waiting for a long time in emergency waiting rooms

NHS 111 can also make direct appointments at GP surgeries and urgent treatment centres. They can also despatch an ambulance if the patient’s condition is serious or life-threatening.

Arrangements have not changed for people with serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries, who should continue to dial 999 without delay.

Find out more on our website.

Artificial intelligence delivers boost for heart attack patients

The Royal Free Hospital is one of the first in the country to treat heart attack patients with an artificial intelligence (AI) backed keyhole procedure.

The pioneering technology coupled with AI means cardiologists are able to make quicker and more accurate decisions while carrying out angioplasties – fitting a stent - for coronary artery disease patients.

The AI software can automatically detect the severity of calcium-based blockages and measure vessel diameter to enhance the precision of surgeon’s decision-making during coronary stenting procedures.

Full details can be found here.

Royal Free Hospital staff play vital role in ground-breaking COVID-19 study

A study involving staff at the Royal Free Hospital showed that a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine boosts protection against coronavirus variants in those who have previously had COVID-19.

Researchers found that people who had previously had mild or asymptomatic infection had significantly enhanced protection against the Kent and South Africa variants, after a single dose of the vaccine. In those who had received a single dose of the vaccine, and who had not had a prior COVID-19 infection, the immune response was less strong, potentially leaving them at risk from variants.

Read more here.

Mild COVID-19 infection “very unlikely to cause lasting heart damage”

A study involving healthcare workers at the Royal Free Hospital showed that people who have a mild COVID-19 infection are very unlikely to experience any lasting damage to the structure or function of their heart.

Six months after mild infection, researchers looked at the heart structure and function of 74 healthcare workers and compared them to the scans of 75 healthy age, sex and ethnicity matched controls who had not previously been infected.

The findings showed that there was no difference in the size or amount of muscle of the left ventricle – the main chamber of the heart responsible for pumping blood around the body – or its ability to pump blood out of the heart. The amount of inflammation and scarring in the heart, and the elasticity of the aorta remained the same between both groups. 

Read more here.

Latest information for the public

We have a dedicated COVID-19 section on our website. The latest information for patients and visitors, and our patient resources library, can be found here. This page is continually being updated to reflect the changing situation.

Update on referral to treatment

As you will be aware from previous correspondence, in 2019 the trust took the decision to pause reporting our referral to treatment (RTT) figures because we could not be sure that our data was accurate and a plan was put in place to resolve this issue. Following the completion of this work, we are now reporting our data, with the figures being published from today alongside the data from all other NHS trusts.

We know that some of our patients are waiting longer to be seen than we would like. Together with our partners in North Central London (NCL) we are developing detailed plans to ensure patients can receive treatment as quickly as possible. As part of this work, NHS England has now designated NCL as one of 13 accelerated systems for elective recovery.

This will mean that additional NHS funding will be provided to NCL to enable us, and other trusts in the sector, to tackle our waiting lists.

Our plans include:

  • Piloting innovative ways of working – including working at weekends and out of hours
  • Using any spare capacity in other NCL hospitals
  • Using capacity within the private sector
  • Tracking and reviewing patients on our waiting lists to identify the most urgent cases
  • Creating surgical hubs within elective centres, for example using Chase Farm Hospital for orthopaedic surgery and Edgware Community Hospital for cataract surgery

Patients are being seen in order of clinical need and those who need urgent treatment will still be seen in a timely manner. We would like to reassure you that we are still accepting all referrals to our hospitals and if a referral has been made we will be in touch as soon as possible.

If you do not wish to receive these updates, please reply directly to this email letting us know.