COVID-19: call for minute’s silence to remember nurses who died in line of duty

Unions say event would be ‘poignant reminder’ of the risks staff face

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The RCN and other healthcare unions have called for a minute’s silence to remember the nurses and other healthcare workers who have lost their lives to COVID-19 while working during the pandemic.

The college, Unison and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) are urging everyone to take part in the tribute at 11am on Tuesday 28 April.

A minute to remember the sacrifice made by staff

At least 20 nurses and ten healthcare assistants (HCAs) have died since the start of the pandemic.

The minute’s silence, on International Workers' Memorial Day, will allow everyone to pay their respects and show support for the families of those who have died, the unions said.

Silence will complement the weekly applause of the public

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘We’ve become used to hearing a great roar on a Thursday night for key workers, but this respectful silence will be a poignant reminder of the risks they run to keep us safe.

‘I hope the public gets behind this with the same affection they show when applauding our people.’

RCM general secretary Gill Walton said: ‘We had expected 2020 to be a celebration of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife but, although we actively applaud their service, this is not what we had imagined.

‘Instead, across the country, midwives and maternity support workers are seeing the impact of coronavirus not only on the women in their care, but on their colleagues as well.’

The call for a minute’s silence came as tributes were made to four nurses and four HCAs whose deaths after contracting COVID-19 were announced in recent days:

  • Mental health nurse Gladys Mujajati was described as a much-loved member of the Derby City community mental health team at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Former nurse Sophie Fagan was a support coordinator at Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who had worked in Hackney, London for more than 50 years.
  • Nurse Michael Allieu, also from Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, had worked in its acute care unit since 2007.
  • Nurse Patrick McManus, 60, worked as a nurse in Staffordshire for more than 40 years. University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust chief executive Tracy Bullock described him as a lovable character who brought kindness and compassion to all his patients, and who would be sorely missed.
  • HCA Jenelyn Carter worked on the admissions ward at Morriston Hospital and was well-loved by all her colleagues and patients, Swansea Bay University Health Board said.
  • HCA Lourdes Campbell worked at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust for nearly 13 years, and was remembered as a ‘diligent and compassionate’ colleague.
  • HCA Margaret Tapley was 84 and remained determined to carry on her work despite being well past retirement age, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust said. She has been hailed as an inspiration for continuing her work despite the risks she faced.
  • HCA Chrissie Emerson worked at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust in Norfolk. In a statement by the trust, she was described as a valued colleague and loved wife, mother and grandmother.

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