Royal visits to remember as King Charles was “the ideal patient” | Celebrating the NHS turning 75

Celebrating the NHS turning 75

NHS 75 To help celebrate the NHS turning 75 this week, we are shining a spotlight on the work of some of our NHS heroes across Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) as well as remembering key milestones for the Trust, including when King Charles was a patient at the Queen’s Medical Centre and celebrating 45 years of clinical genetics at NUH.    

Here you can find the latest news and stories relating to our celebrations as we begin a week of recognising 75 years of the National Health Service.  

At NUH, the 75th anniversary provides the opportunity to reflect on past achievements and recognise where we are today whilst looking ahead to the future, with our People First report helping to set the direction for the Trust to reflect on what is needed.  

We will also be reflecting on the huge achievements of the NHS as a whole such as treating over a million people a day in England and the fact that the NHS touches all of our lives.  

When it was founded in 1948, the NHS was the first universal health system to be available to all, free at the point of delivery.  

From the world’s first CT scan on a patient in 1971, revolutionising the way doctors examine the body, to the world’s first test-tube baby born in 1978, the NHS has delivered huge medical advances. 

Below are some NUH NHS stories which we hope you will enjoy to celebrate this huge milestone.  

Royal visits to remember as King Charles was “the ideal patient”

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 

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