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Ivan Little

Boris Johnson is in the best possible hands... as my wife and I know

Ivan Little


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Ivan’s wife in hospital

Ivan’s wife in hospital

The view of Westminster from St Thomas

The view of Westminster from St Thomas

Ivan’s wife in hospital

Boris Johnson could not be in better hands than in St Thomas' in London.

My wife Siofra has been under the care of the Westminster hospital for five years now after undergoing surgery there for skin cancer and she has been going back for reviews on an annual basis.

We got an inside view of St Thomas' in 2015 having stayed for a week in patients' accommodation at the hospital as she saw her specialists before and after her procedures, which thankfully went well.

There simply are not enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe the care Siofra received from the magnificent staff who went above and beyond the call of duty to reassure her that they would be doing their very best for her.

Which is no doubt what the ICU teams have been doing for Mr Johnson, and not just because of who he is.

Barely a day goes by without Siofra and I thinking about what the hospital is going through right now in the midst of the coronavirus nightmare.

The last time I looked on their website, St Thomas' had lost dozens of patients to the insidious killer.

And it is clear that hearts are breaking in the hospital.

In many ways the hospital is a very different place from the St Thomas' that was our 'home' for those trying seven days.

The first thing that had struck us on arrival was the sheer scale of the place, where we were told there were over 17,000 employees and which even had a Marks and Spencer food hall in a row of shops and restaurants near the entrance.

But among the other facilities - temporarily closed now, of course - are a cinema, an entertainment hub for concerts, a hairdressers, and a museum in the grounds named after Florence Nightingale, who set up a school for nurses at St Thomas' in the 1860s.

The hospital was situated in Southwark back then but it is now in the very heart of London, just across the imposing River Thames from the Houses of Parliament, a scene that greeted us every morning as we drew back the curtains in our room.

In any other circumstances it would have been the ultimate room with a view that would have cost a fortune had it been in a hotel.

But it was not until my wife was given the all-clear later in our week at St Thomas' that it really did become a sight to behold.

By that time, too, we had just about got used to the sounds of Big Ben, chiming repeatedly through the night, and ambulance sirens shattering the silence at other times.

St Thomas' has long been prepared for anything, but no one could have imagined its current front line role in the face of what was an unheard of killer just a few months ago.

But medical experts have said St Thomas' has adapted very quickly.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, the medical director of patientaccess.com, has said that the hospital - with its 'top doctors' - has probably seen more coronavirus patients than the rest of the UK.

St Thomas' officials say they are still trying to maintain as much of their normal business as possible in the almost impossible circumstances.

As for Siofra, her care from St Thomas' didn't end with the 2015 surgery that could not be carried out in Northern Ireland.

She has returned to St Thomas' or to the nearby Guy's Hospital cancer centre every year so that dermatologists can check on her condition.

Just a few days before coronavirus started to cause real concern in the UK we were in pre-lockdown London to be told that the medical teams did not need to see Siofra again, though experts in Belfast continue to monitor her.

"My gratitude to the NHS is boundless," she said.

Belfast Telegraph