A St Thomas’ nurse, who treated Boris Johnson for Covid-19, has resigned from the NHS over low pay and a lack of “respect”, according to a new documentary.
Jenny McGee was one of the nurses who looked after the Prime Minister in intensive care in April 2020. She said she was later asked to take part in a ‘clap for carers’ event with Mr Johnson.
“Lots of nurses felt that the Government hadn’t led very effectively, the indecisiveness, so many mixed messages,” she said in the upcoming Channel 4 documentary The Year Britain Stopped.
“It was just very upsetting. Yes, we have put ourselves on the line and we have worked so incredibly hard, and there’s a lot of talk about how we’re all heroes and all that sort of stuff.
“But at the same time, I’m just not sure if I can do it. I don’t know how much more I’ve got to give to the NHS.
“We’re not getting the respect and now pay that we deserve. I’m just sick of it. So I’ve handed in my resignation.”
The government has recommended that NHS workers in England get a one per cent pay rise. Unions have called for a much higher increase, citing the stress NHS staff have been under in the Covid-19 pandemic. Pay for many other public sector workers has been frozen.
Ms McGee, who is from New Zealand, and her nursing colleague Luis Pitarma were singled out for praise by Mr Johnson after he got out of hospital.
She described seeing the Prime Minister looking “a different colour” in the documentary, out on Monday, May 24.
“All around him there was lots and lots of sick patients, some of whom were dying. I remember seeing him and thinking he looked very, very unwell. He was a different colour really.
“It’s so surreal, that’s the Prime Minister. They are very complicated patients to look after and we just didn’t know what was going to happen.”
She also described the “horrendousness” of St Thomas’ in the run-up to the festive period, as coronavirus cases mounted again.
“Leading up to Christmas, I could just not believe what I was seeing, it was just a cesspool of Covid,” she said.
“And then a whole lot of new patients come in. It was an absolute s**tshow to be honest.
“At that point, I don’t know how to describe the horrendousness of what we were going through.”
Ms McGee also released a statement through Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust/
She said: “After the toughest year of my nursing career, I’m taking a step back from the NHS but hope to return in the future.
“I’m excited to start a nursing contract in the Caribbean, before a holiday back home in New Zealand later in the year.
“I’m so proud to have worked at St Thomas’ Hospital and to have been part of such a fantastic team.”
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said: “Our NHS staff have gone above and beyond over the past year and this Government will do everything in our power to support them.
“We are extremely grateful for the care NHS staff have provided throughout the pandemic in particular.
“That is why they have been exempted from the public sector wide pay freeze implemented as a result of the difficult economic situation created by the pandemic.
“At the same time we have invested £30 million to support staff mental health and are expanding the number of places available for domestic students at medical schools in England to continue expanding our workforce.”