Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020

UK to come together for huge nationwide clap to celebrate 72nd anniversary of NHS at 5pm

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The NHS is celebrating its 72nd anniversary today amid the coronavirus pandemic. To mark the special occasion a nationwide clap is planned for 5pm to thank frontline staff with people encouraged to come out on their doorsteps and balconies once again.

The round of applause comes after the success of Clap for Carers which took place at 8pm every Thursday for 10 weeks during the coronavirus lockdown.

It is hoped the nationwide clap to mark the anniversary of the NHS will become an annual tradition.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet NHS workers in the Number 10 garden this afternoon.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Friday, Mr Johnson urged the public to clap for “those who have worked tirelessly and selflessly to help the nation get through this pandemic”.

Annemarie Plas, who founded Clap for Carers, said she thinks the NHS anniversary clap will be a “beautiful moment”.

She told BBC Breakfast: “We have had this first part of the crisis, we don’t know what lies ahead, so if we can have this one moment where we say thank you to each other and recharge our batteries for what may be a heavier time that lies ahead, then I think that is a beautiful moment.”

Ms Plas said she felt “very honoured” to be joining the Prime Minister outside Number 10 at 5pm.

She added: “I came here as a new mum in a new country and they (the NHS) really went beyond to track me down, to show me around, and really helped me, and that was really touching because we don’t have anything like that in the Netherlands.

“So I feel very happy to be in touch with the NHS this way.”

More than 100,000 people have been treated in hospital for coronavirus in the UK and many more have had COVID-19 at home.

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NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said hospital staff have only been able to pull the country through the coronavirus crisis thanks to a “national mobilisation” of all key workers.

He said: “I think for NHS there will be a sense of relief, having coming through this huge first spike of coronavirus patients, but also people have been working incredibly hard.

“So there’s a need to take a moment to reflect and recharge the batteries while at the same time doing all the other brilliant things that the health service does.

“This is a huge national effort and the NHS is hugely grateful for all the support it has received from all of the rest of the country.”

Sir Simon warned the NHS could have another “enormous job on our hands” if a second spike sweeps the UK.

He said: “Going into autumn and winter, we are going to have to continue to be vigilant about the possible resurgence of coronavirus.

“Until such time as there is a vaccine, we know that it will be lurking across the world.”

The nationwide clap has been organised following a letter from the Together coalition, in which influential figures including Sir Simon called for July 5 to be made an official day of commemoration.

A total of 44,131 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, according to the Government’s latest figures.

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