The Duke of Cambridge visits Evelina London to launch scheme for armed forces veterans

Posted on Thursday 18th January 2018
HRH Duke of Cambridge visiting patient Aidah whilst on dialysis on Beach Ward

The Duke of Cambridge meeting dialysis patient Aidah.

The Duke of Cambridge visited Evelina London Children’s Hospital to celebrate the national rollout of a scheme to help ex-servicemen and women find employment in the NHS.

'Step into Health' provides a pathway from the military into the many career opportunities in the NHS and is supported by the Duke’s charity, The Royal Foundation.

His Royal Highness met veterans who are now working at Guy’s and St Thomas’, which includes Evelina London Children’s Hospital, as well as patients and their families. He heard how mentoring and work experience placements organised through Step into Health had helped veterans go on to secure permanent jobs.

Fourteen-year-old Aidah, from Croydon, was one of the young people who met the Duke during his visit to dialysis patients on Beach Ward. Aidah said:

“I didn’t know he was coming until today and when they told me I couldn’t believe it, I thought it was a joke. When he came in I was talking to my nurse and then he walked past and I nearly hyperventilated. He was really nice and spent some time talking to me. I’m on dialysis and working up to a kidney transplant so we talked about that, he asked if dialysis hurt and about my education. I told him all about Evelina Hospital School, I’ve been working on a robot dog for the last month, it can walk and talk and is called Wally. He wanted to know if I could make it sing and I’m going to work on it. I asked about the gender of his new baby but he said that only Catherine knew. I suggested he name the baby after me, Aidah or if it’s a boy, Aiden.”

Guy’s and St Thomas’ has employed 12 people through Step into Health since 2015, when it was chosen as one of five host Trusts to pilot the scheme.

Neil McKie, Deputy Service Manager, is a former army officer who spent seven years in the Armed Forces before working as assistant service manager in the Dental Department at Guy’s and his current post at Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

Neil said of meeting the Duke of Cambridge, who he trained with at Sandhurst: “Being ex-military the Duke understands what it’s like to leave the Armed Forces.

“I said to him that when I left the Army, and was reassessing my life, I realised that what drives me is not money. What drives me is the people like the five year-old boy we met today who is going down to surgery.

“I see it time and time again as I walk through the hospital. The people who rely on our services. That’s what gets me up in the morning. I want to do my bit to help.

“There are ex-service people who can add value to the NHS. It’s been proven by people like me and the other ex-military here today.”