Prince Charles today pays tribute to the ‘costly sacrifices’ made by doctors, nurses and paramedics during the coronavirus outbreak as he marks the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.
Ahead of this evening’s 5pm ‘clap for the NHS’ – reprising the ‘clap for carers’ that swept the UK in lockdown – buildings across the country turned blue last night.
The landmarks lit up include Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, Wembley Stadium, SEC Glasgow, Blackpool Tower, Windsor Castle’s Round Tower, the Shard in London and the Eden Project biomes in Cornwall.
Prince Charles marked the 72nd anniversary of the NHS today, paying tribute to the ‘costly sacrifices’ made by doctors, nurses and paramedics during the coronavirus pandemic
In a video message celebrating the NHS’s anniversary that was recorded at Clarence House on Friday, the Prince of Wales also praises the ‘renewal of our community spirit’ that has seen volunteers helping the most vulnerable and key workers playing a vital role during the pandemic.
Charles, 71, says: ‘Today marks the anniversary of the foundation of the National Health Service. On July the 5th, 1948, just four months before I was born, Trafford General Hospital opened its doors, providing care to all according to their need – not their ability to pay.
‘After more than seven decades, that founding principle, though now familiar, is still a profoundly moving statement of our values – and it has never been more relevant than it is now.
‘The current pandemic means that the NHS – and the entire country – has been through the most testing time in the service’s history. Our remarkably selfless nurses, doctors, paramedics and countless other staff have made costly sacrifices to provide treatment for more than 100,000 patients with coronavirus and thousands more who needed other care.
The Eden Project Biomes illuminated in blue on Friday evening as part of the NHS’s 72nd anniversary celebrations
Landmarks across the country, including Houses of Parliament, Blackpool Tower (left), and The Shard (right), illuminated in blue last night to pay tribute to the NHS
‘And, in tribute to them, we have come together as a nation to thank them for their skill, professionalism and dedication.’
Charles also highlights how the pandemic had brought out the best in people, saying: ‘Of course, our whole society has risen to this extraordinary challenge, from the farmers, fruit and vegetable pickers, delivery drivers and shop workers who provided our food, to the energy workers who kept the lights on, the transport staff and the public servants and business people who continued to provide vital services.
‘Every new difficulty has been met with a new solution. Countless volunteers have come forward to help those in greatest need and, of course, all have had their part to play by heeding the official advice to help stop the spread of this cruel virus.
‘This renewal of our community spirit has been a silver lining during this dark time.’
Charles, who met NHS workers when he visited a hospital in Gloucester last month, adds: ‘During these past months, the phrase ‘to shield’ has taken on an emphasis it did not have before.
‘But while the meaning may be new, the principle of protection for those in need is timeless.
The Round Tower at Windsor Castle, where Queen Elizabeth is living during the coronavirus pandemic, joined other landmarks in turning blue on Friday night
‘To all who have given so much during this present danger, I just want to say that it is you who have been our shield. It is your hands that have held us up. It is your gentleness that has made us great.
‘Despite all that has been endured, there is deep cause for gratitude, and a true reason for pride. In the way we care for all members of our society, our greatness truly is in gentleness. So, thank you all for what you have done – more than I can possibly say.’
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said he hoped the public would use the anniversary as an opportunity to ‘say a heartfelt thank you’ to hospital staff.
Sir Simon said: ‘This year has been the most challenging in NHS history, with staff displaying extraordinary dedication, skill and compassion.
‘During this testing time, our nurses, doctors, physios, pharmacists and countless more colleagues were sustained by the support of the public, not least through the weekly applause for key workers.’