LONDON (Reuters) – Doctors and nurses dealing with the influx of coronavirus patients in a south London hospital said on Tuesday that the donated meals delivered to them daily made a big difference.

A group of volunteers led by husband and wife Niall Barrett and Janneke Diemel set up a catering service last month that provides free meals to hard-pressed medical staff at St George’s Hospital.

“Normally we all provide our own food and now we don’t have to think about it, we just come to work and eat,” said critical care sister Anthea Allen as she helped push a trolley to transfer the food from a car to the hospital.

“We’ve had halloumi wraps, curry, pizza, shepherd’s pie and we have vegan food, vegetarian food. It’s been amazing,” she added.

Allen said she mentioned to local friends that medical staff would appreciate any snacks they could provide, and the idea quickly caught on.

“That seemed to escalate in my community, my friends, expanding and expanding to a point where I don’t know who is bringing the food now.

“But other things, they’ve given us PPE (personal protective equipment), marker pens, name badges … radios.”

Allen is one of thousands of frontline medical staff working for Britain’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS) who are trying to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The death toll in British hospitals from COVID-19, the disease associated with the virus, rose to more than 12,000 on Tuesday.

“It’s hard, what we’re doing,” said Allen. “And food and radios and name badges, all these tiny little things, make such a huge, huge, huge difference.”

(Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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