PM heralds ‘unconquerable’ NHS and praises individual staff who saved his life

PA

The Prime Minister has called the NHS “unconquerable” after seeing first-hand how it was dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Boris Johnson was discharged from hospital on Easter Sunday, a week after being admitted with persistent coronavirus symptoms.

In a video posted on Twitter, the PM said the “NHS has saved my life, no question”.

His comments come as it was confirmed the number of those who had died in UK hospitals after contracting Covid-19 had breached the 10,000 mark.

The Conservative Party leader admitted he had personally seen, during his seven days at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London, the “pressure the NHS is under”.

But he said the NHS had the resolve to get the country through the health emergency.

Mr Johnson said: “We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country.

“It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.”

Heralding the “personal courage” of everyone from doctors to cooks, he mentioned by name the nurses who watched over him all night while he fought severe coronavirus symptoms in intensive care – Jenny from New Zealand, and Luis from Portugal.

“The reason in the end my body did start to get enough oxygen was because for every second of the night they were watching and they were thinking and they were caring and making the interventions I needed,” he said.

Mr Johnson praised the country’s efforts in following the “tough” social distancing measures over the Easter weekend and said the measures were “proving their worth” in protecting the NHS.

The public comments from the PM could be the last from Mr Johnson for a number of days as he prepares to head to his country residence, Chequers in Buckinghamshire, to convalesce.

A Number 10 spokesman confirmed the PM “would not be returning to work immediately” after being told to rest by his doctors.

St Thomas' Hospital
St Thomas' Hospital

Following the PM’s discharge from hospital, his fiancee Carrie Symonds tweeted in praise of the “incredible” staff at St Thomas’.

Ms Symonds, who is expecting the couple’s baby, said: “I will never, ever be able to repay you and I will never stop thanking you.

“There were times last week that were very dark indeed. My heart goes out to all those in similar situations, worried sick about their loved ones.”

The news about the PM came as the death was announced of Goodies star Tim Brooke-Taylor, 79, who had contracted coronavirus.

I cannot thank our magnificent NHS enough. The staff at St Thomas’ Hospital have been incredible. I will never, ever be able to repay you and I will never stop thanking you. 🌈

— Carrie Symonds (@carriesymonds) April 12, 2020

Tributes flooded in for the actor and comedian, who was described by Jack Dee as a “charming, quick-witted and a hugely skilful comic”.

Dee said: “It’s always heartbreaking to lose a loved one, but these times have created the cruellest of circumstances for that to happen in.”

With the UK hospital death toll of patients with Covid-19 now passing 10,000, the row about availability of protective equipment for healthcare workers has continued to rage.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said health staff should not be put in a position where they have to consider withdrawing care due to a lack of protection.

Tim Brooke-Taylor
Tim Brooke-Taylor

Mr Sharma’s comments follow continued criticism of the Government’s supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff on the frontline of the pandemic.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has piled more pressure on ministers after it urged members to refuse to treat patients as a “last resort” if adequate PPE was not provided.

Mr Sharma said demand for PPE was well beyond anything like what it would be outside of a pandemic and that there was a “unified effort” to deliver more supplies.

But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer backed the RCN’s decision and said ministers’ ambition on PPE supply “isn’t being matched”.

Meanwhile, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has confirmed that Parliament will return to action on April 21 as planned following its four-week Easter break.

It follows pressure from Labour to stick to the scheduled return so MPs can probe ministers on their handling of the Covid-19 crisis, along with seeking answers regarding a possible exit strategy from the lockdown measures.

Coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals in England
Coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals in England

Mr Sharma indicated there would be no lifting of the restrictions on movement until the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has met this week.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said the UK looked set to have “one of the worst, if not the worst” death rate in Europe.

He was critical of the Government’s decision to stop community testing early on during the virus’ spread, saying it could have provided a “critical six- to eight-week” buffer to allow the NHS to be better prepared.

On Sunday, the Department of Health said, as of 5pm on Saturday, a total of 10,612 patients had died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, up by 737 from 9,875 the day before.