Comment

Board’s eye view: Should NHS staff be offered formal commendations?

The minister who tried to save police officer Keith Palmer on 22 March acted bravely, but we should not give knighthoods to good Samaritans.

The minister who tried to save police officer Keith Palmer on 22 March acted bravely, but we should not give knighthoods to good Samaritans.

Westminster terrorist attack
The scene at the Palace of Westminster after the terrorist attack on 22 March. Picture: Getty

On 22 March news broke that an incident had occurred at the Palace of Westminster in London.

The Metropolitan Police, the London Ambulance Service and the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service instigated their well-rehearsed responses and, as the details continued to emerge that afternoon and evening, it was evident a terrorist attack had taken place.

The images, mobile phone footage and television news reports identified that Metropolitan Police officer Keith Palmer had been fatally stabbed.

It was also reported that many others had sustained injuries, some critical, and that four (later to be five) people had died.

The media then reported that Tobias Ellwood, a Foreign Office minister, had administered emergency aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation to the wounded police officer. Mr Ellwood would later be declared a national ‘hero’ and calls were made in parliament for him to be knighted for his brave action.

Bravery

As much as I admire the bravery of the MP and commend his attempts to help a man whose job was to protect the Palace of Westminster, I am not convinced that what he did warrants a knighthood. His actions were those of a good Samaritan, I would say, and nothing more.

The ambulance service, police force and emergency departments around the UK work under immense pressure with limited resources, unrealistic targets and increasing public expectations.

It is interesting to note that the police service, ambulance service, and fire and rescue service offer commendation through the Queen’s Police Medal, the Queen’s Ambulance Medal and the Queen’s Fire Service Medal – yet nothing seems to exist to commend NHS staff.

Perhaps it would have been fitting to pay tribute to those unsung heroes on the day our worst fears came true.


About the author

Mike_Parker

Mike Parker is lecturer in acute and critical care nursing at the University of York

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