By Grahame Anderson

Britain will celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the much-loved NHS with a nationwide clap to thank everyone for their heroic deeds across the past few months. Broadcasters will also suspend transmissions for a moment as a mark of respect.

The UK wide clap has been organised following a letter from the Together coalition, headed-up by Brendan Cox, widower of MP Jo Cox and including influential figures the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, who voiced his support for making July 5 an official day of commemoration. It’s hoped this will become a yearly event. The clap will take place at 5pm.

The day before, people will also be asked to put a light in their windows in honour of those lost to the pandemic in the UK. Public buildings will also be lit up in blue for NHS including the Royal Albert Hall, Blackpool Tower, the Shard and Wembley Arch. The NHS has organised a number of national activities over the weekend.

Bosses Keen to Act

Star of Dragons Den Peter Jones was one of 55 bosses who signed a letter hailing the sacrifice of NHS front-line staff throughout the coronavirus pandemic. It read: “These have been difficult times for us all and we have only survived because of them. But saying thanks is only the start.

“We know that this crisis will have long-lasting ramifications and the only way we will get through this is if we build on the community spirit we have nurtured in the last few months.”

At the peak of the pandemic in April, more than 1,000 deaths were recorded on nine separate days. It’s also worth remembering more than 6,000 people were being diagnosed each day across the nation during the toughest days of the crisis.

NHS Thanks

Niall Dickson, of the NHS Confederation told us: “I think all of us have been touched by the fact the public recognise what health staff have been through. I think it’s entirely appropriate that we come together as a nation and recognise the national health service for what it is”

NHS workers have gone above and beyond, just like in Bradford. A statement from the NHS said: “The NHS could not have achieved this without the commitment and skills of its people, including staff throughout Bradford Teaching Hospitals.

“Every week of the pandemic, we have seen our communities we are here to serve show their love and appreciation for the NHS and carers by turning out week after week to clap for us and by bringing much-appreciated donations of PPE, meals, snacks, drinks, comfort packs and pamper gifts to name just a few – as well as cash donations for our Bradford Hospitals’ Health Heroes Charity appeal.

“As we say thank you, it is important that the human toll of Covid-19 is not forgotten or lost. Therefore, the anniversary is also an opportunity to remember and reflect on their lives of those we have lost to this devastating virus; a chance for the nation to come together and pay our respects.”

UK Pride

Always free at the point of use the NHS, founded by Aneurin Bevan on 5th July 1948 is the fifth largest employer in the world. 13-year-old Sylvia Diggery (nee Beckingham) was admitted to a Manchester hospital with a liver condition in 1948, becoming the first patient to be treated by the NHS.

The first heart transplant in the UK took place on May 3, 1968 at the National Heart Hospital in Marylebone, London.

In 1991, the first wave of new NHS trusts was brought into being.

NHS Direct is launched in 1998 – becoming one of the largest single e-health services in the world, handling more than half a million calls every month.

NHS Walk in Centres were introduced in 2000 offering convenient access to a range of NHS services.

Clap for Carers founder Annemarie Plas said: “The NHS is an institution that we all come in contact with. It’s something which united us all – that’s why I found it important to clap for OUR carers – because they are OUR carers. They do this for us.”

Portrait of A National Institution

Renowned photographer, Rankin, who has previously shot the Rolling Stones, Kate Moss and the Queen, has taken portraits of 12 people playing a vital role in the NHS response to COVID-19.

The portraits include a cleaner, porter, pharmacist, nurse, midwife and 111 call handler, as well as an ICU consultant, midwife, paramedic and IT worker.

The collection will be seen across the country at bus stops, roadside billboards and iconic pedestrian areas including the world-famous Piccadilly Lights in central London.

He explained: “As the coronavirus pandemic began to unfold, I was moved by the incredible efforts of people across the NHS and I wanted to document who they are and their role in fighting this disease. Taking a portrait is a unique and intimate experience, even with social distancing in place. Everyone had their own inspiring story which to them was just doing their job. I hope these images portray the resilience and courage they show every day in the face of real adversity.”

To capture the pictures safely, he photographed his subjects from behind plastic sheeting, as well as using social distancing and cleaning procedures.

Dr Farzana Hussain, a GP at Project Surgery, Newham, said: “It’s difficult to put into words how privileged I feel to be able to go to work every day and make a difference to people’s lives and to help battle this global pandemic.

“Now more than ever, it’s important that we see the humanity that makes up our GP practices, community services and hospitals. Every member of staff has their own story, fears and hopes for the future. I think Rankin’s photography brings this out really well.”

The clear message is happy birthday NHS.