Thursday, 30 April 2020

Clapping For NHS - Why Bother?


It's 8pm on a Thursday, millions are under lockdown in the UK, but many leave their sofas, open their doors or windows and clap. Some hit saucepans with spoons, some play musical instruments, some just clap. But why? Why bother clapping for people who are just doing their job? Why bother?


I'm a retired nurse. I spent over 30 years putting myself at risk. I was a theatre nurse. We didn't always know what the patient had when they entered the theatre. They could have had HIV, or BSE ( nicknamed mad cow disease ), Hepitis A, B or C.
Maybe they had SARs, bird flu, swine flu...the list goes on. Any number of diseases we didn't know (at the time) how it was transmitted, how to treat it or how to protect ourselves.

One slip of a needle, one skin prick and we could die from AIDs or another novel disease. We went to work every day, we saved many, many lives. We gave people hope for the future. We didn't get clapped on a Thursday evening. We were doing a job, and we were being paid, albeit a pittance, to do it.
So why are we doing it now? Why bother?

Why Bother?

We have a history of rewarding people for doing extraordinary things.

A soldier runs towards a machine gun station, he throws a grenade, it knocks the station out and saves his unit. He dies. We give him a Victoria Cross. 

A woman chains herself to railings, another jumps in front of the King's horse. We call them heroines.

A black woman sits on a bus, she breaks the law. The USA give her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

A man runs faster than everyone else - he's given a gold medal.

A 99 year old man walks a few steps every day and raises money for the NHS. We make him a Colonel, give him a fly over for his 100th birthday.

Why bother? Why do we show our appreciation of people that go that bit further than many of us would have gone.

When I was a nurse, I knew the risks. I was trained to practise safely, and trained others the same.
PPE (masks, gowns, gloves and so on) were freely available, if I needed something I asked, and I got it.

I had the opportunity to have a test or a vaccine, just by going to the Occupational Health department. I had the support of my colleagues. We looked after each other.

This is why

It makes them, and us feel good, it lifts everyones spirits.It's simple, free and community spirited.

People now have no idea if they have COVID-19, if they have had it, if the next person they meet has it.

They do not know if they will take it home to their families.

They are short staffed because so many of their colleagues are isolating at home.

They are working 12 hour shifts in PPE, not just when caring for one patient but all the time.

They are not social distancing as they have to work closely with their colleagues or others.

They are not wearing PPE that is suitable for the situation,  or for them as an individual.

They are not being tested

They are not sunbathing, or shopping or going on unessential journeys

No-one knows how to treat this virus. This virus kills.

It's not a pleasant death, alone, unable to breathe.

Why I do it and you should too


On a Thursday evening, at 8pm, for just a few minutes, stand there and make a noise.

You are doing it to show that you understand, you care, you value the work that they do, every single day, pandemic or not.

We do not usually acknowledge the work that ordinary people do, those that care for our elderly, care for the sick, dying and disabled. Remove our waste. Supply our services, water, gas, and so on.

We reward bankers, entrepreneurs, footballers, singers, actors, celebrities, oh my the list goes on and on and on, with immorally high wages. We do not reward the ordinary worker doing essential jobs with money or medals, the least we can do is stand for a minute and clap.


I clapped today, did you?



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