Nurse who Cared for Boris Johnson Resigns over Tory Government's ‘Lack of Respect’ for NHS Workers

Jenny McGee, who kept vigil by PM’s bedside when he was sick with Covid, derides government’s handling of pandemic

A nurse who cared for Boris Johnson when he was gravely ill with Covid-19 says she has handed in her resignation, such is her disillusionment with the “lack of respect” shown by the government for the NHS and healthcare workers.

“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”

Said McGee, referring to the government’s proposed 1% pay rise for NHS staff, which unions have described as a “kick in the teeth”.

She was also critical of the government’s handling of the Covid crisis, adding:

“Lots of nurses felt that the government hadn’t led very effectively – the indecisiveness, so many mixed messages. It was just very upsetting.”

McGee made the comments in a Channel 4 documentary to be broadcast on 24 May about the 15 months of Covid in Britain.

In the documentary, The Year Britain Stopped, she told of how she felt deeply disappointed in the government’s treatment of healthcare workers – particularly over nurses’ pay.

Boris’ Short Memory

Johnson named McGee and another nurse, Luis Pitarma, on the day he left hospital, telling the world’s media: “The reason in the end my body did start to get enough oxygen was because for every second of the night, they were watching.”

McGee, who is originally from Invercargill in New Zealand, said she had been asked but declined to take part in a “clap for carers’” at the event.

“It would have been a really good photo opportunity. You know, kind of like Boris and his NHS friends, but I wanted to stay out of it. Lots of nurses felt that the government hadn’t led very effectively, the indecisiveness, so many mixed messages. It was just very upsetting,” she said.

A Cesspool of Covid

McGee recalled the situation leading up to Christmas last year – a period when the government was coming under heavy criticism for not acting sooner to impose new restrictions as data suggested that measures at the time were not limiting public mixing as much as during the March lockdown.

She described what took shape in her hospital as “a cesspool of Covid”.

“This time there was more than the first surge. The nurses are stretched even more. An absolute shitshow to be honest. At that point, I don’t know how to describe the horrendousness of what we were going through. We were desperate.”

Research carried out last year by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) showed a sharp rise in the proportion of nursing staff considering quitting the profession, driven primarily by concerns about pay.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of 42,000 members who responded to the survey across the UK said higher pay would make them feel more valued.

Full story at The Guardian