NHS marks 72nd anniversary this weekend by saying ‘thank you’ back to local communities in the South East

This weekend, to mark the NHS’s 72nd anniversary, NHS organisations and staff across the South East will be taking the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ back to everyone who has supported them so far to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Sunday 5 July, the day the NHS was founded, the whole country is invited to come together at 5pm and applaud all those who have volunteered or helped keep the NHS and its staff going, and the commitment, courage and sacrifice shown by so many.

During these times of uncertainty across the South East, extraordinary people are making extraordinary things happen. Nationwide, nurses, doctors, carers, GPs and other healthcare and key workers are isolating from family and friends, re-training, re-deploying, volunteering and even coming out of retirement to join the effort to help tackle this pandemic – supported by members of the public who have been volunteering and donating food and other items.

Dr. Michael Gomez, a Senior Doctor in Gastroenterology who’s worked at the RBH since 2018, is one of a large number of NHS staff providing essential services and making huge personal sacrifices, and wants to say thank you to those who have supported him and his family.

Dr Michael Gomez, Senior Doctor, Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “At the start of the pandemic I was redeployed from Gastroenterology onto the Covid rota to cover the acute medical unit. My wife, Anna, was heavily pregnant, and so we made the hard decision to minimise the risk to Anna and the baby, by her moving out for nine weeks. We were reunited when Anna went into labor at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, giving birth to a baby boy, Arlo, weighing in at a very cuddly 8lb 5oz.’

Michael added: “Needless to say, it’s all been incredibly hard, we have been touched by all the people who have looked out for us both, including people creating a meal rota as I didn’t have much time to cook, and staff checking in on me as they knew I was living alone – I’d like to thank everyone for their support over the last few months.”

Thanking the support of NHS staff, Michael’s wife, Anna, said: “I was worried about having a baby in the middle of a pandemic and it was horrible being away from Mikey for the final part of pregnancy. Despite this, we received such amazing care from everyone in the NHS. It’s great that we are finally all together as a family after such a long time.”

Anne Eden, Regional Director, NHS England and NHS Improvement South East, said:

“This year has been the most challenging in NHS history, with staff displaying extraordinary dedication, skill and compassion to care for patients with Covid-19 in the South East who needed specialist hospital treatment, care and support”

“During this testing time our nurses, doctors, physios, pharmacists and countless more colleagues were sustained by the support of the public, volunteers and other key workers.

“Every week of the pandemic, we have seen the communities we are here to serve, show their love and appreciation for the NHS across the South East: from donating tablets so that patients can stay connected to their loved ones, to setting up pop up shops in hospitals for staff and delivering hot meals, to raising funds to support NHS services. So many have played their part by staying at home to stop infection spreading and keep our communities safe.

“The NHS’s anniversary this year not only offers the opportunity for us to say thank you to the nation, but for us all to come together at 5pm on Sunday 5 July to pause and recognise all the work which has taken place in the last months and say a heartfelt thank you.”