Irish president Michael D Higgins visited University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on Wednesday, as part of his historic visit to the UK.
The president and his wife, Sabina, visited University College Hospital to pay tribute to the work of the Irish in the NHS.
They were given a tour of the hospital’s 38-bed elderly medicine ward and the hyper-acute stroke unit, as part of their three-day trip to the UK – the first official visit by an Irish head of state.
“It’s a real honour for the health service and for nurses”
He then met around 20 of the trust’s Irish members of staff, including multiple sclerosis consultant nurse Bernadette Porter and lead nurse for pre-registration education Helen O’Toole.
Trust chief executive Sir Robert Naylor said: “We are incredibly proud of our multicultural workforce and our Irish colleagues play an integral part in making this one of the leading trusts in the NHS.”
The president was shown round the elderly medicine unit by matron Josie Gladney, originally from St Mullins in County Carlow, and ward sister Sharon Lynagh, originally from Athboy in County Meath.
Ms Gladney said: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and makes me really proud to be Irish, really proud of my heritage and really proud to show the president the great place where I work and the great work that we do.”
Ms Lynagh added: “It’s massive recognition for the Irish people who work at UCLH and the NHS as a whole. It’s a real honour for the health service and for nurses.”
Eamonn Sullivan, the trust’s deputy chief nurse, is originally from Waterford.
He said: “At UCLH we have nurses from right across the world and that perspective of having nurses from lots of different backgrounds is great for our patients. It reflects the diversity of our patients.”