London: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead a nationwide clap to mark the 72nd anniversary of the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) on Sunday.
The British public are being encouraged to join in the round of applause at 1700 hrs (local time) for all the NHS key workers who helped save lives during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Seventy-one times before, our National Health Service has marked the anniversary of its founding but never in circumstances quite like this,” said Johnson in a video message on Twitter.
“This year, we’ve seen not only the greatest challenge the NHS has ever faced, but also an unprecedented outpouring of affection and support for that institution.
“Week after week, millions, tens of millions of people have taken to their doorsteps, lined the streets, lent precariously out of rainbow-bedecked windows to clap their hands, bang their saucepans and show their appreciation for the NHS,” he said, in reference to rainbow symbol of support for the taxpayer-funded health service.
The UK prime minister said the three letters don’t just stand for the National Health Service but for an idea and set of values that healthcare must be available and affordable to all, with contributions from all.
“As Prime Minister, I’m proud to have given the NHS a 34 billion pounds funding increase, its biggest in decades, and made sure it has every penny it needs to cope with coronavirus,” he added, as he wished the “sprightly” 72-year-old institution a very happy birthday.
In his video message, Prince Charles spoke of gratitude and pride for the “costly sacrifices” of NHS staff.
“Despite all that has been endured, there is deep cause for gratitude, and a true reason for pride,” said the 71-year-old heir to the British throne.
The prince also said the pandemic had brought out the best in people, adding: “This renewal of our community spirit has been a silver lining during this dark time.”
On Saturday, many UK landmarks were lit up blue in celebration and remembrance, including Downing Street, the Royal Albert Hall, Blackpool Tower, the Shard and the Wembley Arch being illuminated and a minute’s silence being held to remember the nearly 44,000 victims of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
On Sunday, a World War II Spitfire plane with the words “Thank U NHS” painted on its underside will tip its wings above hospitals and the homes of fundraisers and volunteers, recognising the way people have supported the NHS and local communities during the pandemic.
The National Health Service was launched on July 5, 1948, with the core principle that it is free at the point of delivery and is based on clinical need.
The 72nd anniversary clapping is inspired by the success of the weekly Clap for Carers, which saw households across the UK show their appreciation for the NHS and other key workers every Thursday evening during the height of the