The Wokingham Paper

Clap for volunteers: NHS staff thank supporters with applause on Sunday night

Dr. Michael Gomez, with his wife Anna and baby Arlo - born during the pandemic. Picture: Royal Berkshire Hospital

NHS organisations and staff are thanking their supporters this weekend, in celebration of the service’s 72nd anniversary.

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, July 5 — the day the NHS was founded — the country is invited to come together at 5pm and applaud all those who have volunteered or helped keep the NHS and its staff going.

Nationwide, nurses, doctors, carers, GPs and other healthcare and key workers are isolating from family and friends, re-training, re-deploying, volunteering and coming out of retirement to help tackle this pandemic – all 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 Royal Berkshire Hospital since 2018 wants to say thank you to those who have supported him and his family.

He 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.”

He 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.”

His 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 of 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, July 5 to pause and recognise all the work which has taken place in the last months and say a heartfelt thank you.”

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