Hero retired nurse, 62, with 40 years’ experience goes back onto the frontline to head up UK’s new mega hospital at ExCel – as her sister says ‘It’s a massive job but we’re so very proud she’s taken it on’
Deirdre Barr, 62, will come out of retirement to work as director of operations at the new Nightingale Hospital in East London, which is preparing to house thousands of COVID-19 patients.
Barr, from Bogside, has served the NHS for 40 years, after joining as a St John Ambulance cadet.
She will now leave her home in Kent to work at the new hospital amid the global pandemic.
Her sister Dolores, 74, said that although the family were concerned for Barr, they were extremely proud of her decision.
‘This is a massive job, and we’re scared for Deirdre, but we are so very proud that she has taken it on. If anyone can do this, Deirdre can. She’s always been the one person her whole family turns to in times of trouble and sickness.
‘Now the whole of the UK will be turning to her. She’ll handle it well. She has broad shoulders and never shirks from responsibility.
‘This job is going to ask an awful lot of her but we know she’ll face it head on. The pictures we are seeing of the Nightingale Hospital are terrifying but our Deirdre will take it all in her stride,’ she told the Daily Mirror.
It comes as NHS nurses from all over the UK are sent to London as the capital is set to be struck by a ‘tsunami’ of cases in the coming weeks.
The ExCel hospital is set to open next week, with 500 beds and plans to expand to 4,000.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace has described the plans as an ‘ambitious project’ that ‘is just one example of what can be achieved when they come together to help the nation’.
It has been reported that as many as 13 makeshift hospitals may be needed in the UK to tackle the health crisis.
The UK saw coronavirus cases jump by 2,921 on Friday to almost 15,000, the largest increase so far, while the death toll spiked by a third to 759.