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Queen Mary steps up to support its community through coronavirus

16 April 2020

Image: people wearing masks
Image: people wearing masks
Community outreach work and engagement have always been intrinsic to what we do at Queen Mary. Now, in the face of the pandemic crisis, our staff and students are finding ways to further support communities at the local and national levels, whether by joining the NHS frontline or volunteering to help vulnerable individuals.

Supporting the NHS

With the demands on our National Health Service greater than ever, Queen Mary has trained 18 final-year medical students to support the NHS in fighting the pandemic. The students joined the critical care team at The Royal London Hospital in March. All Queen Mary clinical staff have been seconded to assist the NHS and we have donated specialist equipment and dedicated parking spaces to NHS staff as part of our effort to ease the pressure on local NHS trusts.

Professor Charles Knight

Charles Knight, Professor of Cardiology at Queen Mary University of London and Consultant Cardiologist at Barts Health NHS Trust, has been appointed as the Chief Executive of the new NHS Nightingale Hospital London. Currently Chief Executive of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Professor Knight has been temporarily released from his duties to lead the management team at the hospital, which is housed inside the ExCel Exhibition Centre.

Serving communities

Queen Mary staff and students have dedicated time and effort to supporting and protecting their communities as they weather the effects of the pandemic.

Joe Sampson, Student Recruitment and Widening Participation Manager, has been volunteering at his local council, helping to pack food parcels for the vulnerable in his community.

Fourth-year medical student Harriet Loudon has been working at her local hospital in Hampshire. As well as taking on extra shifts, Harriet has also been working at a local GP and doing food shops and getting prescriptions for members of her community.

Dr Talhah Atcha, Queen Mary Students' Union President, resigned from his post to work as a doctor for Barts Health NHS Trust during the coronavirus crisis. He wrote in his resignation letter: "Resigning was not an easy decision to make, but it was definitely the right one. I have skills in A&E, ITU and microbiology and I could not in good conscience not put these skills to good use when so many people are dying from such a horrible disease"

Protecting frontline staff

In response to the shortage of crucial personal protective equipment (PPE), researchers from across Queen Mary have stepped in, using 3D printing technology to create visors for the staff at The Royal London Hospital. As reported in the Evening Standard, the supplies come as part of a collaboration between the Blizard Institute, the School of Engineering and Materials Science, the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Sciences, the Institute of Dentistry and Barts Health NHS Trust.

With help from researchers, laboratory and support staff, Queen Mary have also sent PPE supplies to staff and colleagues working in the NHS, which will hopefully protect front line workers fighting COVID-19. The donations from Queen Mary included boxes of protective gloves from the University’s Blizard Institute and protective gloves, eyewear, overshoes from the William Harvey Research Institute. On hearing the news of the lack of PPE equipment for NHS front line workers our global partner, Nanchang University, also gifted one thousand PPE masks to support the University’s efforts.

Professor Steve Thornton as Vice Principal (Health) and Executive Dean of the Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, said: “This is a great example of how Queen Mary can mobilise our community, on both a local and global scale, to support our local community. I’m extremely proud of the dedication shown by colleagues across the University, from clinicians and researchers to technical and estates staff, and grateful to our partner Nanchang University, for their efforts to support front line NHS workers.”

Cementing our community work commitments

Queen Mary’s work as a civic university was recently reaffirmed through a founding partnership of a new national network. The network has been created to provide an opportunity for universities to share and develop best practice around civic activity and engagement, which Queen Mary has a long-held tradition of doing.

Providing medical support for our communities abroad

Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela recently paid a visit to Queen Mary's medical school campus in Gozo, Malta and witnessed how it's being put to use in the fight against coronavirus. Following the temporary closure of all educational establishments, the campus now provides storage space for the administration of chemotherapy, beds for vulnerable patient care, space for staff and critical support functions, such as the storage of sensitive equipment. 

Students and staff from the medical school who have remained on the island are also able to volunteer their assistance in combating the virus, easing the burden on local healthcare providers.

More information

For the latest Queen Mary news on coronavirus research and work, please read our dedicated webpage.

Further information on how our research has a positive impact on society can be found on our Research with impact page.