COVID-19: community hospital for recovering patients named after Mary Seacole

Naming of NHS Seacole Centre in Surrey pays tribute to BAME staff on the front line of the pandemic

NHS Seacole Centre chief nurse Arlene Wellman, left, and Trevor Stirling from the Mary Seacole Trust at the opening of the centre in Surrey
Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust chief nurse Arlene Wellman and
Mary Seacole Trust chair Trevor Stirling at the opening of the centre in Surrey 
Picture: Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust

A community hospital to care for people recovering from COVID-19 has been named in honour of the Jamaican-born nurse pioneer Mary Seacole.

It is hoped the NHS Seacole Centre, which will have up to 300 inpatient beds, will free up capacity in other nearby hospitals. It is based at NHS Headley Court Hospital in Surrey, part of Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust. 

Nurses from diverse backgrounds at the forefront of UK’s COVID-19 response

Chief nursing officer for England Ruth May said: ‘Mary Seacole made an extraordinary, long-term contribution to community healthcare and so it is fitting that such an important service is honouring her name.

‘It’s also a wonderful testament to so many nurses and healthcare workers from diverse backgrounds and from different countries who make up our NHS – I am extremely proud of their continued dedication to step up these services for patients during the greatest challenge in our history.’

Ms Seacole cared for wounded soldiers during the Crimean War of the 1850s, despite being refused formal permission to do so by the British War Office.

Last month, a petition to name the NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham after Ms Seacole attracted almost 15,000 signatures.

The NHS Seacole Centre at Headley Court Hospital will provide 300 inpatient beds
Picture: Epsom and St Hellier University Hospitals NHS Trust

Likely to be the first of a number of Seacole services

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the centre, likely to be the first of a number of Seacole hospitals established around the country, paid tribute to the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) nurses who have been at the forefront of the response to the pandemic.  

The tribute comes after NHS England released guidance saying all staff from BAME backgrounds should be risk assessed because of concern they may be at greater risk from COVID-19.

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