Clap for Carers should return for NHS 72nd birthday, says open letter signed by medics, charities and celebrities

Planned Clap for Carers will be ‘the biggest yet, because this time it is to say thank you to everybody’

Sabrina Barr
Wednesday 10 June 2020 13:41 BST
NHS staff take part in Clap for Carers on the banks of the Thames near St Thomas' Hospital in London, 23 April 2020
NHS staff take part in Clap for Carers on the banks of the Thames near St Thomas' Hospital in London, 23 April 2020 (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Calls have been made for a one-off Clap for Carers to take place on Sunday 5 July to mark the 72nd birthday of the NHS.

In March, a campaign to hold a weekly clap in honour of the NHS began, with members of the public standing on the doorsteps and in their streets every Thursday at 8pm to applaud those working on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

The event was later extended to pay tribute to all key workers, including NHS staff, supermarket workers and teachers.

In May, Annemarie Plas, the woman who came up with the UK Clap for Carers campaign, said that the event should end on 28 May on its 10th consecutive week, so that it draw to a close while still “at its peak”.

Nonetheless, Ms Plas is one of several individuals and organisations to have signed a letter calling for the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the NHS to be commemorated across the nation next month, with proposed celebrations including a one-off clap.

An open letter has been published on the website of Together, a coalition “that everyone is invited to join, from community groups to some of the UK’s best-known organisations”.

“Our aim is to bring people together and bridge divides to help build a kinder, closer and connected country,” it states on the website.

In the letter, it states that the signatories are calling on “everyone to come together to say the biggest thank you possible to all those who are helping to get us through a difficult time, in the NHS and beyond”.

Those who signed the letter include Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS; the Royal College of Nursing; the Jo Cox foundation; the Archbishop of Canterbury; the National Federation of Women’s Institutes; sports broadcaster Gary Linekar and actor Michael Sheen.

“We all owe a debt of gratitude to the nurses, doctors, physios, porters, cleaners, and countless others who have delivered for patients and their families along with all those in the care sector,” the letter says.

“But we are also hugely grateful to the shop workers, transport staff, delivery drivers, teachers, refuse collectors, farmers, armed service personnel and other key workers who have kept the country going.”

The letter adds that thanks are also in order to “all those who have stayed home even when the sun shone, the people who volunteered who helped their neighbours with the shopping or washed their hands more often”.

The statement emphasises the key role the NHS has played throughout its 72-year history “treating everyone regardless of the ability to pay”.

“That has never been more true than in the last weeks and months when neighbours and friends have been briefly reunited on doorsteps as we have come together to applaud all our key workers,” it states.

“So we are asking everyone to return to their doorsteps on the 5th of July as people did every Thursday, not just to show their appreciation for NHS and key workers but also to show that we are all still there for each other, now and in the coming months.”

The letter states that hopefully “after the applause has faded” on 5 July, people can stay outside their homes “a little longer; to have a drink, a cuppa or some food; and to spend some time together (at a safe distance, of course) with your friends, family or neighbours”.

In addition to the clap on Sunday 5 July, Together is also asking that people put a candle or a torch on their window sills in memory of all those who have have been lost throughout the pandemic.

People can also download a variety of “Thank You” illustration designs from the Together website, which they can colour in and send back in to be featured on the site.

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