Coronavirus: Minute’s silence in tribute to key workers who have died

Image showing the faces of some of those who died

A minute’s silence will be held across the UK later to commemorate the key workers who have died with coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who returned to work on Monday, will join the tribute, which starts at 11:00 BST.

More than 100 NHS and care staff have died with the virus, as have many transport and other key workers.

NHS England medical director Stephen Powis said he hoped “the whole nation” would show how much their “contribution is remembered and appreciated”.

Chief nursing officer Ruth May added: “Every death is a tragedy but we feel the loss of fellow health and care workers particularly keenly.”

It comes as hospitals in England start planning to restore some NHS services that had to be postponed because of the pandemic.

The latest daily figures show a further 360 people died with the virus in UK hospitals, taking the total number of deaths to 21,092.

This number includes 82 NHS staff and 16 care workers who were confirmed to have died in hospital in England. Last week, BBC analysis of the published figures found that at least 103 health workers had died with the virus across the UK.

The UK deaths figure does not include people who died in the community – for example in care homes, or people who have died in their own homes.

Image copyright
NursingNotes

 

Image caption

Margaret Tapley’s grandson said she dedicated her life to the NHS after she died with the virus

The minute’s silence to honour key workers follows a campaign by the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Nursing, and the union, Unison.

It has received the backing of the government and the prime minister, who has only just returned to work after being treated in intensive care for the virus.

“We will be asking everybody who works in the government to take part and we would hope that others will take part nationwide as well,” the PM’s official spokesman said.

‘Tremendous debt’

A flag is to be flown at half mast at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which will be among many medical venues around the country where staff will pause to pay their respects to their colleagues.

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the moment “will bring together a sombre but grateful nation”.

She added: “This must not be the last time that sacrifice is recognised. The country and its leaders owe a tremendous debt to these key workers and the many more who are on shift again today.”

Image copyright
Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust

 

Image caption

Cheryl Williams, a ward housekeeper, was “a lynchpin of the care, comfort, and compassion”, North Middlesex University Hospital said

On Monday, the government announced that families of front-line NHS and social care staff who died with the virus would receive a £60,000 compensation payment.

Prerana Issar, NHS chief people officer, said that NHS England was considering how to formally commemorate all those who have died while working to care for others once the health service was through the peak of the virus.

Transport for London said the underground and bus network would be brought to a halt for the silence as the workforce honoured its colleagues, with passengers being asked to join in.

 
 

On Monday, the prime minister, speaking outside No 10 for the first time since recovering from the virus, urged people not to lose patience with the lockdown.

Mr Johnson said once the UK had met the five tests for easing restrictions – which include a consistent fall in the death rate and making sure the NHS can cope – “then that will be the time to move on to the second phase” in the fight against the outbreak.

He said the restrictions would not be relaxed too soon and details on any changes will be set out over the “coming days”.

Meanwhile, some NHS services that had been paused because of the crisis will resume in England, starting from Tuesday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said treatments including cancer care and mental health support were being prioritised.

At the start of the outbreak, there was a widespread cancellation of non-urgent operations, such as hip and knee replacements, and some treatments.

NHS England cleared 33,000 hospital beds to cope with an expected surge in coronavirus patients.

Mr Hancock said the “exact pace” of the restoration of services depended on the number of Covid-19 patients a hospital was still treating.

In other developments:

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