Prince William and Kate Middleton Royal visit: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Clitheroe Community Hospital

The Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge have arrived at Clitheroe Community Hospital this afternoon to learn about the unique challenges faced by rural health providers in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

By Faiza Afzaal
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 1:11 pm

Their Royal Highnesses are set to meet GPs, nurses and others who work across the Ribble Valley community, both to understand their experiences and to congratulate them on continuing to deliver a high standard of care for elderly and sick patients, within the hospital and in the rural community, despite services being the busiest on record.

This is the first time Prince William and Kate Middleton have visited Clitheroe.

While many of those with Covid have been admitted to larger, urban hospitals, pressures across the system have meant that frontline staff at Clitheroe Community Hospital have felt the strain. NHS Charities Together, of which The Duke and Duchess are Royal Patrons, has been instrumental in providing mental wellbeing support during this challenging period.

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Prince William and Kate Middleton arrive at Clitheroe Community Hospital.

Across East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, over £300,000 of funding allocated by the charity has helped establish wellbeing services that support over 9,000 staff, including break-out spaces, wellness packages, and therapies. At Clitheroe, this funding will provide for a staff wellbeing room, among other services.

Today will see the latest addition to the team make his debut – an apricot cockapoo puppy who will be trained as a therapy dog to support patients and colleagues at the hospital. He will join Jasper, a six-year-old cockapoo and award-winning therapy dog already supporting staff and patients across the Trust.

Parallel to the efforts to support staff, Clitheroe Community Hospital works hard to promote the mental wellbeing of patients and The Duke and Duchess will meet with some of them to understand what this means in practice.

Vaccination has been a ticket to freedom for many older and at-risk people. By expanding the provision of vaccinations at local health centres, GP practices and providing home visits, the hospital and care providers have been able to vaccinate more older people, quickly. Allowing them to get out of the house and engage in social activities once again.

The same ethos has led to a focus on ensuring that patients who do need to spend time in hospital are discharged back into a home setting as soon as possible, with appropriate support in the community. These efforts, coordinated by a dedicated health provider to bring together different services, ensures that mental health isn’t negatively impacted by overlong stays in hospital and a lack of social interaction