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Prince Philip in gaffe claim over Filipino NHS staff

The Duke of Edinburgh has joked about the number of Filipinos working in the NHS – telling a member of nursing staff that her country must now be “half-empty”, according to national media reports.

The duke, who is famed for his off-the-cuff remarks, is reported to have made the hospital worker from the Philippines laugh with his comment during a visit to a new cardiac centre in Bedfordshire.

BBC Online reported the Duke told the unnamed female staff member: “The Philippines must be half-empty – you’re all here running the NHS.”

His remark came during a visit to Luton and Dunstable University Hospital Foundation Trust on Tuesday, where he officially opened a multimillion-pound cardiac centre.

A spokeswoman for the foundation trust described the royal visit as a huge boost for staff morale and said the duke was in a jovial mood, making jokes throughout his tour.

Prince Philip had a stent fitted to clear a blockage in a coronary artery in December 2011. When, during the visit, he was given a gold plated stent, he quipped that he now had a spare.

The trust spokesman added: “Staff greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet the Duke of Edinburgh, and we regard all personal conversations he had with our staff and guests as private and therefore would not comment on them.”

Buckingham Palace said it did not comment on private conversations.

Readers' comments (14)

  • Bless him he does miss those Empire days

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  • Peple should lighten up and take some comments as they are intented as light hearted banter.

    If the female concerned took no offence then why should we? I am black and can distinguish humour from hostility. Many in the UK call the prince Phil the Greek.

    We are here and we have left our countries and we make a big contribution to the NHS.

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  • COED 11th Edition definition

    gaffe (also gaff)
    n noun an embarrassing blunder.

    ORIGIN
    early 20th cent.: from French, literally 'boathook', in colloquial use 'blunder'.


    Good-humoured Prince Philip is known for being outspoken and even for his occasional faux-pas, but he is down to earth, friendly and means well and I am sure he was very grateful for all the excellent care he receives. He has probably on occasion also embarrassed the Queen, members of his family and the public but we all make mistakes sometimes.

    Luckily the staff took his 'gaffe' with the spirit of good humour in which it was very obviously and warm-heartedly meant, and was in fact quite a witty remark if merely taken for what it was.

    I bet he is a lovely and very easy and appreciative person to look after.

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  • The NHS would crumble were it not for hard working people from overseas. Over the years we have failed to attract and retain sufficient numbers of UK trained Nurses and/or invest in training them in the first place.

    This is not to say that there are not sometimes issues as a result, for example language and/or cultural values. However, in the main I have found no greater issue than someone from another area of the country.

    The only issue I have experienced is where large concentrations of people with different cultural vales to the patients they work with.
    It is important that mentors are available for all new staff to ensure that a positive organisational culture can be maintained.

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  • Anonymous | 21-Feb-2013 5:38 pm

    Accepting work in another country or different culture requires the worker to adapt, integrate and to acquire a thorough working knowledge of the language. It is true that the transition can be facilitated with the presence to mentors to provide guidance, as well as the the provision of language classes, if required, which also teach the job specific vocabulary.

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  • is this really of any interest to anyone?

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  • It is if some people wish to express views about it. That is what democracy is about .

    No one should censor people about what they wish to talk about? unless if it breaks some laws.

    If its not of interest to yourself switch off and decide whats important for you.

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  • I love Prince Philip's sence of humour. He is so down to earth. I bet he is great company.

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  • I suppose you can get away with those remarks when you are one of the chosen few and of course have had the very best of healthcare! Ooooooops

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  • What if a patient who isn't a member of the royal family had made those remarks to a nurse or if a nurse had made those comments to a patient? This is another example of a celebrity abusing his status to violate other people's rights with impunity. Jimmy Saville anyone? I am ashamed of some of the comments that I have seen.

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  • Anonymous | 24-Feb-2013 10:07 am

    for crying out loud!

    go and read Daniel Goleman's books - all of them before commenting again!

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  • Hardly a gaffe - more a social comment. However, he has missed out that the other half are working in Hong Kong. Let us just accept that people leave the Phillipines for a better life; and welcome these migrants who I have found to be caring, friendly and intelligent co-workers...

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  • A harmless joke... remember jokes???? Or are we not allowed a sense of humour in this country anymore? I can't see there was anything wrong in what he said. In my humble opinion, it was not intended to be derogatory or malicious in any way.
    Some people are so far up their own backsides!

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  • sometimes the truth hurts

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