People are being encouraged to celebrate the NHS’s birthday and thank key workers and neighbours for their support during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter, influential figures including the head of NHS England Sir Simon Stevens and the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby have voiced their support for making July 5 – the 72nd anniversary of the service – an official day to pay tribute to those who have helped throughout the crisis.
The letter, compiled by the Together coalition, says: “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.
“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.”
A nationwide clap will be held on that Sunday, giving people another opportunity to thank NHS staff.
The woman who founded the #ClapforCarers initiative, which lasted for 10 weeks following lockdown, believes “now is the time to expand this gratitude and acknowledge everyone who has and is still helping us through this crisis”.
Annemarie Plas said: “Thursday nights were a moment to show our appreciation but also became a moment to check in with our neighbours and have some human contact.
“I hope we can make July 5 a day which unites us in a countrywide ‘thank you’ and that shifting the moment to earlier in the day will mean those kids who go to bed before 8pm can really take part.”
Sir Simon said he wants to give thanks to “the teachers, care staff, transport and shop workers, as well as the armed forces, volunteers and local authorities”.
He added: “And in particular, thanks to the public whose support has meant so much – from the children who put rainbows and NHS signs in their windows, to all those who saved lives by staying at home to slow the spread of this terrible virus.”