Top medics at King’s College Hospital recognised for work during pandemic

Two members of a hospital’s staff have been awarded OBEs in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for their heroism during the Covid-19 pandemic.

King’s College Hospital’s associate nursing improvement director Felicia Kwaku was recognised for services to nursing. as was its critical care consultant Dr Sam Hutchings.

Felicia, who also chairs the Chief Nursing Officers Black and Minority Ethnic Strategic Advisory Group at NHS England, supported Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) nurses as they were hit much worse by the virus.

She delivered webinars which reached thousands of nurses at a time when they felt vulnerable, scared and worried.

Felicia spoke up about the need for appropriate risk assessments and PPE for nursing staff and other clinical colleagues.

In her free time, she supports individual nurses and managers as well as members of the community who are distressed and fearful about the potential impact of COVID-19 on them and their families.

She said: “I’m very thankful for this honour. It’s particularly poignant at it comes during Black History Month and International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

“I want to be an ambassador for the nursing profession and I hope the issues I have raised will help put equality and diversity at the very top of the agenda. This award is for all the nurses who have died during the pandemic.”

Dr Hutchings worked to ensure King’s and other hospitals nationwide had enough critical care beds for patients requiring the highest level of medical care.

He said, “Myself and a military colleague, both intensive care specialists at King’s, developed a command-and-control structure. King’s is incredibly large, and it was the busiest intensive care hospital in the UK in terms of COVID-19. We ended up at one time having nine intensive care units in the hospital so the command-and-control structure ensured everyone and everything was in the right area. It is not something we normally do so we have written it up and will get it published. Our model was useful for larger intensive care units.”

Dr Hutchings, who has been based at King’s since 2011, described this year as “pretty frenetic, alternating between flat-out working in March, April, May and June, some recovery over the summer and now a lot of uncertainty as we head into the winter.”

The medic, who has seen service for the Royal Navy on submarines, in Iraq, Afghanistan and in Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis, said, “I was surprised and a bit embarrassed because I didn’t do anything that hundreds of people didn’t do. It is a team effort and every single person deserves praise.”

Professor Clive Kay, Chief Executive, said, “I’m sure I speak on behalf of the whole Trust when I say how incredibly proud we are that Felicia and Sam have been recognised on a national level for their highly valued contributions during the pandemic.

“Felicia has been a driving force in highlighting the difficulties faced by BAME colleagues and helping to instigate change. Equally, Sam has played a leading role in critical care capacity planning to ensure patients received the specialist care they needed. Well done to them both.”

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