Today, on the second anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring Covid-19 a global pandemic, NHS Charities Together held a live-broadcast remembrance service – including a minute’s silence at 11am – to reflect on the sacrifices of health and social care staff during this time, and the impact the pandemic has had on us all. The service was streamed live across Facebook and YouTube, with hundreds of NHS staff and members of the public tuning in to take part. You can watch the full service below.
Senior representatives from the NHS and social care were also in attendance, including Chief Nursing Officer for England Ruth May, Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care for England Professor Deborah Sturdy OBE, and Chief Midwifery Officer for England Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE. Lord Nigel Crisp, former NHS Chief Executive, introduced the live broadcast in his role as Patron for NHS Charities Together.
NHS Charities Together has had a significant role in supporting NHS staff over the last two years, distributing donations from our Covid-19 Urgent Appeal to every NHS Trust and Health Board in the UK via the network of 238 NHS charities. Thanks to generous support from the British public, we have allocated over £110 million during 2020 alone, with millions more continuing to be allocated during 2021 and 2022. This includes funding more than 400 projects dedicated to NHS staff, including counselling, helplines, and specialist psychological support.
Health and social care staff from across the nations attended the small event at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire – including staff from ambulance, hospital, mental health, community, social care and primary care services – and individuals from the frontline shared personal poems, testimonies and experiences of the last two years. As part of the service ten blue heart wreaths were laid to represent different parts of the workforce, patients, and wider global losses and sacrifice.
Fliss Pass, an acute oncology clinical nurse specialist based across Royal Derby Hospital and Queen’s Hospital Burton, worked on Covid-19 wards throughout the pandemic. Speaking at the event, she shared her account of caring for a Covid patient as she approached the end of her life.
“As healthcare professionals, over the last two years we have often found ourselves in impossible situations. When we had to arrange Zoom calls with people’s families to say goodbye, the tears in their eyes were heart-breaking. I still can’t imagine the pain it caused families to lose their loved ones in this way. Afterwards, we would be left alone with our patients at the end – sometimes the only person who could stay by their side and hold their hand as they died.”
“As nurses we are used to people dying and talking about death, but the pandemic broke me. And today I am still trying to come to terms with days like those, which were without doubt the hardest in my career. It was so difficult to be there in those moments and witness so much loss, but I felt honoured to care for my patients, and will never forget what we went through together.”
Fliss Pass, Acute Oncology Clinical Nurse
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With the impact of Covid-19 on the NHS workforce and services that are busier than ever, NHS Charities Together needs to continue to be there for the people of the NHS. With your help, we can continue working with alongside NHS charities across the UK to provide much needed support for staff including counselling, helplines, and specialist psychological support.
Together, we can help the NHS go further.