As we celebrate the NHS turning 75, a land mark moment for Nottingham University Hospitals was when staff had to care for Prince Charles when he broke is elbow in a polo match in 1990.
Senior staff nurse Gail Burbage was called in to look after Prince Charles and said: “I jumped at the chance.”
After a three-hour op, Charles was cared for in a normal side room on ward D9 with a small bay occupied by his security team and personal assistants throughout his week-long stay.
Gail added: “It was an honour to care for him. He was personable, chatty – the ideal patient. Of course, we had certain protocol we had to follow but he kept it all light-hearted and made it easy for us.”
Charles brought his own chefs as he didn’t want to cause any unnecessary work for catering staff. Despite this, he was curious to sample the food.
Gail said: “We ordered a meal for him using a made- up name so no-one would know. He ate it off the plastic trays we used at the time. He said it was really well-balanced!
“When he was able to start moving around, he would stop and speak to everyone – nurses, doctors, porters, cleaners.”
After his stay, Charles sent Christmas cards and gifts from Harrods to the staff that had cared for him.
The following year, he organised a charity polo match at Royal Windsor against Alpha Romeo and all those involved in his care were invited. “It was a great day,” said Gail.
The match raised £25,000 which Charles donated to NUH for medical equipment.
Further royal visits
On 11 January 1989, Charles visited the Queen’s Medical Centre to meet survivors of the Kegworth air disaster and to chat with staff who cared for them.
A Boeing 737 - en route to Belfast from Heathrow with 126 people on board - diverted to East Midlands Airport for an emergency landing after developing engine trouble. The plane came down short of the runway, smashing into the embankment on the side of the M1. Of the 79 survivors, 74 were seriously injured.
Nurse Lynn Dyer – on a day off - was called in to the Emergency Department.
“I can remember it as vividly as anything.”
Lynn – who now works in Infection Control – lined up outside with her colleagues for the royal visit.
“It was a freezing January day,” she said. “Charles commented on how cold it was, and I said I should have put my thermals on! He said we should all go back inside and have a hot toddy – I told him I wasn’t allowed to drink on duty!
“It was a very proud moment in my career and one I will never forget – not only meeting Prince Charles – who had no airs and graces - but being part of the Resus team that night.”
“Charles returned in 1992 to open the QMC daycase unit and theatre service centre, and visited ward B3. By then I was a Sister, and when he came in, he congratulated me on my promotion!”
Charles also opened the multi-faith centre at QMC in 1999, the Breast Institute and the £6.9m Emergency