Minute’s silence for NHS staff who died with coronavirus

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The country’s chief nurse and top doctor are backing a nationwide tribute to NHS and care staff who have lost their lives in the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May and National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis will lead NHS England staff in marking the minute’s silence on Tuesday.

At 11am today, all of NHS England’s national and regional teams will be asked to pay their respects to the friends and colleagues they have lost over the last two months due to the virus.

They will join partners from the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives and UNISON in honouring all workers who have died after testing positive for Covid-19.

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Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May said: “Every death is a tragedy but we feel the loss of fellow health and care workers particularly keenly.

“I want people across the NHS and the whole country to come together and remember health and care workers who have lost their lives to this cruel virus.”

Professor Stephen Powis said: “This is an opportunity for us all to pay tribute to doctors, nurses, cleaners and many other NHS staff who have died in this pandemic.

“I hope the whole nation will fall silent in tribute and show how much their contribution is remembered and appreciated.”

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So far 82 NHS staff are known to have died after testing positive for coronavirus.

NHS Chief People Officer Prerana Issar said that NHS England is considering how to formally commemorate all those who have died while working to care for others once the health service is through the peak of the virus.

Health leaders are considering a range of ways to celebrate their lives, their dedication and their compassion and will work with families, loved ones and staff groups to find the most respectful and appropriate way to do so.

The NHS is also raising awareness of the wellbeing support that is available to NHS and social care staff – the #OurNHSPeople Wellbeing Support – at people.nhs.uk

They include:

  • A free wellbeing support helpline, and text message service, providing emotional support from trained volunteers and onward signposting to specialist advice, bereavement care and coaching
  • A new NHS Bereavement & Trauma Line providing support including a team of specialist counsellors and support workers
  • Peer to peer, team and personal resilience support

Prerana Issar said: “This week the NHS family will come together to pay tribute to all those across the health and care sector who have lost their lives to coronavirus.

“Every one of them, whatever job they were doing, were making a difference and helping others.

“That’s why we will be joining this nationwide moment – to remember those we have lost, and honouring all that they did for us.

“Our NHS staff are pulling out all the stops to ensure that everyone gets the care they need during this global public health emergency, but we know that can take its toll, particularly when we lose colleagues and friends, which is why the NHS has put in place a range of support for staff in their time of need.”

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