The Prince of Wales has visited a new operating theatre built in record time to help clear the backlog of patients needing surgery after the coronavirus pandemic.
Charles toured the Derwent building, a hip and knee operations facility at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, which was turned into a palliative care unit during the pandemic.
Its new theatre was set up in just two months.
The prince met staff who went above and beyond during the first phase of the pandemic, including staying away from home for months to protect their families from Covid-19.
Prince Charles, 73, looked smart in a grey suit with a blue shirt and matching patterned tie, pictured, as he met with members of the medical team at the new Derwent operating theatre in the Royal Bournemouth Hospital
The 73-year-old royal, donning a mask, pictured, chatted with staff and listened intently to them at the hospital visit
He shared a joke with a staff member at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital as he opened the Lavender Garden, pictured
He also spoke to Michell Flores, who was a patient in intensive care but returned to work in the stroke unit when he recovered.
Charles then cut the ribbon on the hospital’s new Lavender Garden – a project funded by staff and donations to commemorate colleagues lost to Covid-19.
It was initially intended to commemorate two staff members who died with cancer in 2020, but it is now devoted to all employees who have died over the past two years.
The garden is in an outdoor quadrangle and is intended to give staff a place to relax during difficult shifts and reflect on the difficulties of the past two years, a spokesman for the hospital said.
Prince Charles smiles and chats with members of staff at the hospital in Bournemouth during his visit today, pictured
The 73-year-old makes the hospital staff laugh during his Bournemouth hospital visit today, pictured
A line of hospital workers watch on as Prince Charles speaks with staff in the Derwent operating theatre at the Bournemouth hospital today, pictured
Two delighted staff members shake hands with the royal during his visit to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital today, pictured
Anna Gryga, who worked in hospital administration, was one of the two people the garden was first designed for.
Her son Parys, 16, said: ‘She was an amazing woman, that’s the only thing I can describe her, a joy for everyone, a really reliable person.
‘Lavender was her favourite flower, it has such a calming smell, that’s why it is a lavender garden.’
Parys spoke to the prince for several minutes during his visit.
Staff at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital clamour to take pictures of the royal during his visit today, pictured
The 73-year-old gestures during a conversation with a hospital worker in Bournemouth today, pictured
Prince Charles, pictured, cuts the ribbon at the opening of the Great Field play area at Poundbury today during his visit to Dorset
Michael Gove, pictured, attends today’s opening of the play area at Great Field, Poundbury
The royal declares the Great Field at Poundbury play area officially open during his visit to Dorset today
Donna Bailey, surgical first assistant and a close friend of Ms Gryga, said: ‘Just before Anna died, I gave her a bunch of lavender from my garden, and that’s where the idea for this special space came from.
‘This has since grown into a garden for all staff so we can have a peaceful place to decompress during difficult shifts, to recharge after a long day inside, and to reflect on those we have lost.
‘It’s been wonderful to see the garden celebrated by the Prince of Wales, and for the relatives and generous donors to come together on this very special day.’
Charles also posed for a photo with a group of nurses, and waved to crowds of people gathered at the windows overlooking the new outdoor space.
He said to one nurse ‘I don’t know how you do it’, when she told him of the long hours they worked during the pandemic.
The 73-year-old, pictured, dons a pair of sunglasses and speaks to primary school children at the opening of the Great Field play area at Poundbury in Dorset today
Prince Charles, pictured, arrives to open the Great Field play area at Poundbury in Dorset today
Michael Gove, pictured, watches on, as the new Great Field play area at Poundbury is opened
Louise Pennington, lead palliative care nurse, said: ‘I’m unbelievably proud of all our teams and for all they did during the pandemic to ensure compassionate and safe visiting for patients at the end of their lives.
‘We pulled together to focus on what matters most to our patients and having His Royal Highness here is great recognition of all we’ve been through.’
Later on Friday, the prince visited the Poundbury housing development, which is next to the Dorset town of Dorchester and built on Duchy of Cornwall land.
So far, 2,240 homes have been built on the site, which is designed to boost the quality of life for those who live there, with a focus on people rather than prioritising traffic.
The prince met people involved in designing and building a new play area for children.
Also present were Cabinet ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Gove.
The Royal Bournemouth Hospital is currently undergoing further transformation work.
In 2024, a new hospital building, The Beach Building, is expected to open and will have a critical care unit, an emergency department, children’s unit and maternity unit.
Crowds of primary school children, parents and staff watch as Prince Charles, pictured, speaks at the opening of the Great Field play area at Poundbury
Prince Charles, pictured, arrives at the opening of the Great Field play area at Poundbury in Dorset today
This week, Prince Charles has had many engagements. Yesterday, before The National Pharmacy Association reception he visited a south London youth club,
Donning a pin stripe suit with a white shirt, silver tie and blue pocket square, he examined designs for Dexters Adventure Playground, which is an upcoming project of local charity, the BIGKID Foundation.
He also showcased his American Football skills, taking a ball and throwing it twice to players Anjola Adebiyi, 16, and Sharon Aiyelemi, 17.
The mid-week visit to the South London borough also saw Charles shaking hands with a local food truck owner, known as Maureen, as he browsed dishes being cooked up for lunch.
The youth centre and play area in the heart of Brixton were given to the BIGKID foundation by Lambeth Council on the condition that it is used for social impact – and is already helping 100 plus children from significantly disadvantaged backgrounds a week.
Excited Prince Charles fans at the hospital take snaps of him in Bournemouth today, pictured
Charles listens in to a staff member as he meets with Royal Bournemouth hospital workers today during his visit, pictured
The 73-year-old, pictured, prepares to cut the ribbon at the opening of the Derwent operating theatre in Bournemouth today
Charles beams as he speaks to hospital workers in Bournemouth today during his visit, pictured
The 73-year-old looks serious, pictured, as he chats with staff members at the Royal Bournemouth hospital today