Monday, February 26

UK to unite for one last NHS clap



Carers, key workers and good neighbours will all be celebrated on the 72nd birthday of the NHS.

Celebrities, health chiefs, trade unions and religious leaders will mark a national moment in the fight against the pandemic. The public can light a candle in their window during a minute’s silence for all those killed by Covid-19.

The next day will feature a “clap of thanks” before neighbours raise a glass or cuppa outside their homes. It is backed by figures including astronaut Tim Peake, NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens and ex-England footballer Gary Lineker.

In a joint letter published today dozens of individuals and groups have backed making Sunday July 5 a day to bring people together. The idea comes from the newly founded Together coalition, which includes the CBI, trades unions, the Scouts and Guides.

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, said: My sincere hope is this weekend will serve as a powerful moment of remembrance, thanks and connection, as we come together and commit to helping to create kinder, closer more connected communities.

Others supporters include UK Sport, Clap for Carers founder Annemarie Plas and Baroness Doreen Lawrence.

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: As we mark the NHS’s birthday we want to say a huge thank you on behalf of the whole NHS to all those who have played their part in tackling this horrible coronavirus pandemic.

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: Throughout its history the NHS has brought the whole country together, treating everyone based on need not ability to pay. So we’re honoured the Together coalition have chosen the NHS birthday to pull the country together.

Polling for the Together coalition found 60% of the public believe the coronavirus crisis has brought us closer together. Just 15% disagreed.

Kwame Kwei-Armah, director of the Young Vic, said: At a time when there is so much emphasis on what divides us, giving thanks and connecting with our communities is one of the things that unites us.

The minute’s silence will take place on July 4 followed by the clap on July 5. Details of the times will be revealed in the coming weeks.