The Metropolitan Police have appealed for witnesses after thousands of pounds of vital medical and computer equipment was stolen from Great Ormond Street. On Monday morning, staff at the world-renowned hospital discovered a number of offices had been targeted in the weekend break-in. While preparing to tackle the global pandemic, the burglary piles even more pressure on already stretched doctors and nurses.
The staff-only area at the North London hospital is home to many specialist teams who have been reassigned to help cope with an influx of patients as COVID-19 spreads across the capital.
Bosses have been forced to cancel dozens of non-urgent appointments, and restrict visits to the hospital in a bid to slow down transmissions of the disease.
Chief executive Mat Shaw yesterday announced only one carer would be allowed to visit patients throughout their stay at Great Ormond Street.
A Great Ormond Street spokeswoman said: “The safety of our staff and property is of utmost importance to us and we are liaising with the Metropolitan Police about this incident.
“We have reminded staff of the necessary personal safety advice to help maintain security at the hospital and to take extra care with their possessions.”
Appealing for witnesses, a Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said: “A burglary was reported to police at around 08:45hrs on Monday, March 23.
“The incident occurred at in a staff only area of a north London hospital. A number of electrical items were stolen including laptops and a mobile phone.
“Anyone who has any information about the incident is asked to call 101.”
It comes as healthcare workers have been advised to remove their NHS identifications after reports of a spate of muggings.
Staff at Great Ormond Street, the University College London Hospital and the Royal Free have been warned they could be targeted for their IDs by criminals seeking to take advantage of the special windows reserved for NHS staff at supermarkets.
Earlier this week, the Met said it had received no official reports, but promised to investigate if people come forward with information.
The Healthy London Partnership, which works with the NHS, London councils and Public Health England, has warned its staff to “be very vigilant” on their way to work.
In an email, bosses said: “We are regrettably hearing reports from the Met that some NHS staff are being mugged for their passes and lanyards.
“Please be very vigilant when using your passes and showing your lanyards, and take care.”
Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of volunteer applications have flooded to support the NHS during the coronavirus crisis.
Over 400,000 people pledged their support to be part of a nationwide effort to help one and a half million vulnerable people who have been told not to leave their house for 12 weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I want to offer a special thank you to everyone who has now volunteered to help the NHS.
“When we launched the appeal last night we hoped to get 250,000 volunteers over a few days. But I can tell you, in just 24 hours, 405,000 people have responded to the call.
“They’ll be driving medicines from pharmacies to patients, they’ll be bringing patients home from hospital, very importantly they’ll be making regular phone calls to check on and support people who are staying on their own at home.”