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Nurses react angrily to Sue Gray report on lockdown parties

Detailed revelations as report is finally released on COVID breaches during events held in Downing Street prompt disgust among nurses
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking in the House of Commons today

Detailed revelations as report is finally released on COVID breaches during events held in Downing Street prompt disgust among nurses

Nurses have reacted with anger and disgust at the findings of the Sue Gray report , which concluded that a number of events held in Downing Street ‘breached COVID regulations’.

The damning report, released today, names several senior civil servants and paints an embarrassing picture of how events unfolded, including a party on 18 June 2020 at which ‘one individual was sick’ and there was a ‘minor altercation between two other individuals’.

Detailed revelations as report is finally released on COVID breaches during events held in Downing Street prompt disgust among nurses

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking in the House of Commons today
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking in the House of Commons today Picture: Parliament TV

Nurses have reacted with anger and disgust at the findings of the Sue Gray report, which concluded that a number of events held in Downing Street ‘breached COVID regulations’.

The damning report, released today, names several senior civil servants and paints an embarrassing picture of how events unfolded, including a party on 18 June 2020 at which ‘one individual was sick’ and there was a ‘minor altercation between two other individuals’.

It contains 20 mentions of wine and 26 references to alcohol, including in emails and messages sent between staff. One email sent to staff inviting them to ‘socially distanced drinks’ in the Number 10 garden on 20 May 2020 ends with ‘bring your own booze!’.

Report says what took place at many of the gatherings was not in line with COVID guidance

Ms Gray said in her report: ‘Whatever the initial intent, what took place at many of these gatherings and the way in which they developed was not in line with Covid guidance at the time.’

Taking to Twitter, nurses vented their frustrations at the government for drinking at work while they suffered through gruelling shifts, often without adequate personal protection equipment (PPE).

One mental health nurse said she was ‘utterly disgusted’ while another nurse said they would have been sacked for doing the same thing.

Today’s report gives the details of 16 different events held between May 2020 and April 2021, of which 12 were investigated by the police, resulting in prime minister Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak each being issued with a fixed penalty notice.

Mr Johnson made an apology in the House of Commons this afternoon. He said he was not seeking to absolve himself from any responsibility, and that staff were entitled to be in the office during lockdown restrictions due to the nature of their jobs.

On allowing them to drink at work, Mr Johnson said: ‘These people were working extremely long hours doing their best to give this country the ability to fight the pandemic.’

Emergency nurse recalls how she and others followed the rules, calls revelations 'infuriating'

An emergency nurse based in London told Nursing Standard the findings were ‘infuriating’ and ‘not at all surprising’.

‘I remember me and my colleagues sitting in corridors waiting for our breaks when we finally got them because we needed to socially distance in the break rooms and they were only big enough to allow four people in for a team of 30. We were all following the rules, being abused by patients and relatives for asking them to wear a mask, and denying relatives coming in with their unwell family members, all while the government making these rules were getting drunk, having karaoke parties and vomiting from being so drunk.’

She said many nurses and healthcare workers suffered trauma during the pandemic that they can’t move on from, adding that she feels ‘deflated by it all’.

‘We would have loved to have some free work food and drinks, some socialisation with colleagues we’re working incredibly hard alongside, but we followed the rules and didn’t.’


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Sue Gray report

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