Community rallies round to help house Royal Preston Hospital medic

Dad-of-three Liam Bass, an operating department practitioner, has spent the past seven months assisting with vital treatments like eye cataract surgeries at Royal Preston Hospital.
Dad-of-three Liam Bass, an operating department practitioner, has spent the past seven months assisting with vital treatments like eye cataract surgeries at Royal Preston Hospital.

The Preston community has rallied round to help house a medical professional who provides specialist operations.

Dad-of-three Liam Bass, an operating department practitioner, has spent the past seven months assisting with vital treatments like eye cataract surgeries at Royal Preston Hospital.

Liam travels all round the country with amobile theatre and will be based in Preston for two and a halfyears to offer eye surgeries.

Liam travels all round the country with amobile theatre and will be based in Preston for two and a halfyears to offer eye surgeries.

But when the 33-year-old, originally from East Yorkshire, found out on Tuesday evening that his hotel would close the next day due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, he put a post on Facebook to see if anyone in the area knew of any available accommodation.

And it was not long before hundreds of likes and messages of support came pouring.

Liam said: "Everyone rallied round, and when I woke up, I couldn't believe how many messages and friend requests I had.

"People said they were praying for me and that I shouldn't sleep in my car.

His new accommodation is a furnished city centre apartment provided by Preston businessman Andrew Forrester, who owns The Wellington Inn inGlovers Court.

His new accommodation is a furnished city centre apartment provided by Preston businessman Andrew Forrester, who owns The Wellington Inn inGlovers Court.

"I'd say there were about 500-600 messages, and they are still coming through. It's crazy."

Some 20 to 30 people offered him free accommodation, including houses in Manchester, sofa-surfing, and even a caravan.

"I've also been offered things like pots and pans," he added.

Liam stays in hotels while travelling all round the country with a mobile theatre.

He is one of five medics who will be based in Preston for two and a half years to offer eye surgeries.

But when his hotel, Premier Inn, told him on Tuesday night that it would be closing the next day, Liam thought he would have to return home to Yorkshire before finishing his work in Preston.

"I only know three or four people round here, so I was shocked at the response," he said.

"I started my work here and I want to finish it.

"There is a massive demand for eye treatments both in Preston and everywhere else. I think it's because we have an aging population."

Liam received so many offers, he says it was difficult to pick the right one for him. But in the end, he decided to go for a furnished city centre apartment provided by Preston businessman Andrew Forrester, who owns The Wellington Inn in Glovers Court.

"Andrew is a really nice chap who has also since put my colleague up in an apartment, so I want to say thank you to him," he said.

"When he gave me the keys, he told me to make myself at home."

Liam added: "I also want to thank everyone who has supported me.

"I've replied to as many messages as I could but unfortunately I can't reply to all of them because I have had hundreds.

"It's a very stressful time at the moment but it's really nice to see how supportive the Preston community is."

NHS bosses have joined Liam in praising all those who came to the medic's aid.

Karen Partington, chief executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The community’s response to Liam’s post was incredible.

"The well-being of our dedicated staff is vital in these challenging times, and we are so grateful to everyone who offers help, be it by volunteering, offering up accommodation, food or other support that we are receiving on a daily basis.

"Liam now has somewhere to stay while he cares for our patients, and for that we say a huge thank you.”