As London unites to mark the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 bombings, staff at The Royal London Hospital will hold a memorial service at the A&E entrance of the old hospital, to remember those who died and honour the courage of all those affected.
At The Royal London, home to world-leading trauma services and London’s Air Ambulance Service, staff played a leading role in treating and caring for the wounded, helping over 200 people – more than half of all those injured in the atrocity. This included 27 patients who sustained serious injuries and required multiple operations, with lower limb amputation and wound debridement (removal of contaminated tissue).
Many walking-wounded suffered from smoke-inhalation and minor burns, with more than 80 being ferried to the hospital on double-decker buses flagged down by emergency responders at Kings Cross.
At the time of the attacks, many spoke of the ‘true spirit of London’ being revealed, with people of all ethnicities and religions standing together. In Tower Hamlets, arguably one of the most diverse places in London, as news of the attacks reverberated across the City and The Royal London Hospital prepared to receive patients, local residents rallied flooding the hospital helpline to offer their houses to relatives of those injured, give blood and volunteer to do anything they could to help.
Staff at partner hospitals St Bartholomew’s and The London Chest received patients who had operations planned as well as inpatients to help make The Royal London immediately available.
The following days saw visits from dignitaries wishing to express their gratitude to staff for their efforts, including The Queen and former Mayor Ken Livingstone.
Specialist teams continued to care for their patients for months, with many patients receiving follow-up care for years.
7/7 was the first time that many of the hospital’s experienced trauma doctors and paramedics had seen blast injuries, as usually only army medics face treating victims of bomb attacks.
For one person in particular, Miss Hasu Patel, Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon, 7/7 was the start of her working with multiple agencies, including the Metropolitan Police Service, to research how those with blast injuries should best be treated to improve survival rates and quality of life.
Miss Hasu Patel said: “When I found out what had caused their injuries, I just wanted to do my utmost to help them carry on their lives in the same manner in which they got on the tube that morning. Now, on this tenth anniversary, it is the right time to honour the lasting strength and dignity of all those affected by the attacks.”
Testament to this care, Hasu is invited every 7 July to meet with a survivors’ group. They have dinner together and talk about their lives, celebrating each other’s personal achievements that year. She has also attended their weddings and cradled their newborns.
Dr Gareth Davies, Medical Director of the London’s Air Ambulance Charity and Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Pre-hospital Care & Emergency Preparedness with Barts Health NHS Trust, will be among staff reading at the memorial service, having played an integral role in the day’s emergency response with London’s Air Ambulance, as Medical Incident Officer at Aldgate and in assisting at other sites.
Dr Gareth Davies said: “On the day of the 7/7 bombings, all of London’s emergency services, hospitals and communities pulled together and worked tirelessly to help patients affected by what happened. Under the devastating circumstances, it is remarkable what was achieved that day. Employees of London’s Air Ambulance, Barts Health NHS Trust and London Ambulance Service Trust joined together to provide excellent care and I share great pride in everyone who worked together on this day to deliver excellent patient care.”