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Royal Free and Whittington hospital staff mark NHS’s 72nd birthday with poignant photos and tributes to coronavirus victims

PUBLISHED: 17:43 06 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:39 06 July 2020

Frederic Aranda's breathtaking short of Royal Free staff on the hospital's roof. Picture: Frederic Aranda

Frederic Aranda's breathtaking short of Royal Free staff on the hospital's roof. Picture: Frederic Aranda

Frederic Aranda

Staff and patients at both the Royal Free and the Whittington Hospital were among those marking the NHS 72nd birthday.

Royal Free staff celebrate the NHS' 72nd birthday. Picture: Royal FreeRoyal Free staff celebrate the NHS' 72nd birthday. Picture: Royal Free

Whittington Hospital staff marked the occasion by reading ‘These Are The Hands’, the Michael Rosen poem dedicated to the health service, and which was written for its 60ths anniversary in 2008.

The Archway hospital was also turned an emotive blue all weekend, in memory of the many to have died of coronavirus in the past few months.

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And in Hampstead, the Royal Free’s staff turned out to pay tribute to the NHS at 5pm on Sunday – and ice cream and non-alcoholic beer was laid on for them by the Royal Free Charity.

The Whittington Hospital turned blue for the NHS' 72nd birthday. Picture: Whittington HealthThe Whittington Hospital turned blue for the NHS' 72nd birthday. Picture: Whittington Health

Award-winnng photographer Frederic Aranda – more used to shooting stars like Anish Kapoor, Sir Ian McKellen or Pharell Williams – took dramatic group images of staff on the Royal Free’s roof and outside of its sister Barnet Hospital to celebrate the milestone.

Frederic said: “These are the people we are indebted to, and this pandemic has brought that sharply into focus. Group photographs are the perfect medium to demonstrate how many people are involved in the delivery of care – that it’s not just doctors and nurses. To be able to bring them together like this is an event in itself.”

Caroline Clarke, the Royal Free London NHS Trust’s chief executive, said: “These fantastic photos pay tribute to the enormous team effort that enables us to deliver such wonderful patient care. The past few months have been like nothing any of us in the NHS has ever experienced before.

“Every single member of staff at the trust should be enormously proud of what has been achieved together during the pandemic. We could not have responded so well without everybody playing their partThe Pond Street hospital has treated more than 900 patients for Covid-19 since the pandemic started. With a speciality in infectious diseases, the Royal Free has been one of the hospitals most involved in the fight against the pandemic – and was even featured in two special editions of the BBC’s Hospital documentary programme.


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