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NHS birthday: Nationwide clap on anniversary of health service ‘to become annual tradition’

‘This year has been the most challenging in NHS history,’ says boss of health service

Sabrina Barr
Friday 26 June 2020 08:23 BST
NHS staff and members of the public take part in the weekly 'Clap for Our Carers' event at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital on 28 May 2020 in London, United Kingdom
NHS staff and members of the public take part in the weekly 'Clap for Our Carers' event at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital on 28 May 2020 in London, United Kingdom (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The UK is to take part in a nationwide clap in honour of the NHSbirthday, in what is hoped will become an annual tradition.

Earlier this month, an open letter was published calling for the nation to mark the anniversary of the NHS with a clap.

The campaign for the nationwide clap has since gained traction, with the chief executive of the NHS expressing his hope that people will use the event to give “a heartfelt thank you” to medical workers.

In March, the Clap for Carers campaign began, which saw members of the public come out of their houses every Thursday evening to clap for NHS staff and then later for all key workers who have been carrying on with their jobs throughout the Covid-19 outbreak.

The event drew to a close on 28 May on its 10th consecutive week, with its founder, Annemarie Plas, saying the weekly initiative should end while it is still “at its peak”.

However, shortly afterwards Ms Plas joined calls for Clap for Carers to return one more time in honour of the 72nd anniversary of the NHS on Sunday 5 July.

At 5pm on the designated day, broadcasters will suspend transmissions for a moment as a sign of respect for the NHS.

Public buildings, including the Royal Albert Hall, Blackpool Tower, the Shard and the Wembley Arch will also be lit up in blue to mark the occasion.

The evening before the nationwide clap for the NHS, people will be asked to place a light in the windows in remembrance of all those who have died during the pandemic.

“This year has been the most challenging in NHS history, with staff displaying extraordinary dedication, skill and compassion to care for the 100,000 patients with Covid-19 who needed specialist hospital treatment and many others besides,” said Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS.

“During this testing time our nurses, doctors, physios, pharmacists and countless more colleagues were sustained by the support of the public, not least through the weekly applause for key workers.”

Sir Stevens added that “no health service, not even the NHS, could have coped alone with this coronavirus pandemic”, paying tribute to other key workers who have continued working.

“From bus drivers and teachers to care staff and food retailers and, of course, the public who took action to stay at home to stop infection spreading, everyone played their part,” he said.

Dr Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales, said that Clap for Carers was “very much embraced” in Wales.

He stated that he is “delighted” to support the nationwide clap on 5 July.

“I know communities across Wales will want to pay tribute and thank everyone who has played their part in supporting our nation through this pandemic,” Dr Goodall said.

In addition to Ms Plas, other signatories who signed an open letter calling for a nationwide clap on the NHS’ birthday included 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.

It was 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”.

“Thank You” posters can be downloaded from the Together website to be coloured in and displayed in windows in honour of ”everyone who has helped us through the crisis”.

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