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18th May 2021

Nurse who cared for Boris Johnson resigns over ‘lack of respect’ for NHS

Charlie Herbert

“We’re not getting the respect and now pay that we deserve. I’m just sick of it.”

Jenny McGee, the nurse who cared for Boris Johnson whilst he was seriously ill with Covid-19, has resigned from her job because of her disillusionment with the “lack of respect” shown by the government to the NHS and its workers.

McGee stayed by the Prime Minister’s bedside for two days when he was in intensive care.

According to the Guardian McGee said: “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.”

She has also attacked the government for its handling of the pandemic, saying: “Lots of nurses felt that the government hadn’t led very effectively – the indecisiveness, so many mixed messages. It was just very upsetting.”

The nurse made the comments as part of a Channel 4 documentary being broadcast on 24 May, looking at the 15 months of Covid in Britain. The documentary’s airing will also coincide with the first anniversary Dominic Cummings’ infamous lockdown breach and Barnard Castle visit.

McGee also reveals that staff at Number 10 co-opted her into a “clap for the NHS” photo opportunity with the Prime Minister, inviting her to Downing Street for what she thought was going to be a discreet thank you.

Speaking about how she found the Prime Minister when she arrived for work in her role as lead intensive care nurse at St Thomas’s hospital in London, McGee said: “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.”

But she reveals in the documentary, entitled The Year Britain Stopped, that she was extremely disappointed in the government’s treatment of healthcare workers, and particularly the 1% pay rise for NHS staff.

After he came out of hospital, Johnson said that “the reason in the end my body did start to get enough oxygen was because for every second of the night, they [McGee and another nurse, Luis Pitarma] were watching.”

Photos were later released of the Prime Minister hosting the pair in the garden of Downing Street.

McGee said that she had been asked to take part in a “clap for carers” photo opportunity with the PM, bur declined because “lots of nurses felt that the government hadn’t led very effectively, the indecisiveness, so many mixed messages. It was just very upsetting.”

She also described her place of work in the build-up to Christmas as a “cesspool of Covid” and that it was “an absolute sh*tshow.”

In a statement to JOE, a Number 10 spokesperson 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 £30m 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.”

They added that the Prime Minister had “invited St Thomas staff to Downing Street to express his gratitude for the care he had received while in hospital.”

The Channel 4 documentary that McGee features on is set to look at how the revelations about Cummings’ lockdown breach marked a turning point for when the resolve and togetherness that had been created in the country throughout the first lockdown began to fray.