COVID-19: nurses remembered in minute’s silence

People around the UK stopped to pay tribute to NHS staff and key workers

Staff stand outside Salford Royal Hospital in Manchester during the minute's silence. Picture: PA

People across the UK have observed a minute’s silence to remember the nurses and other key workers who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The RCN, Unison and the Royal College of Midwives campaigned for the silence, which was held at 11am on International Workers’ Memorial Day [28 April] and saw political leaders and the public take part around the UK.

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘I am heartened to hear how many people took part in the minute's silence to honour the memory of staff who have tragically died during the pandemic.

‘We thought it was important to pay tribute publicly to those who have lost their lives to the virus, and I am proud that so many took the time to do so this morning.’

Gratitude from relatives of nurses who lost their lives

The daughters of two nurses who died this month said they appreciated the tribute.

Freya Trollope, whose mother Sara died on 10 April, said: ‘I respect everyone that took part, it was a nice gesture – I knew she was looking down on me.’

Melissa Ong, whose mother Alice Kit Tak Ong died on 7 April, said: ‘I think it was a nice touch that the whole nation decided that it would adhere to that minute’s silence.’

Tribute to a ‘highly committed’ nurse

The minute’s silence came as South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust paid tribute to its ‘passionate and highly committed’ community staff nurse Fiona Anderson, who died on 26 April after testing positive for COVID-19.

At least 34 nurses, 16 healthcare assistants and two midwives are known to have died in the UK so far, after contracting the disease.

NHS chief people officer Prerana Issar said NHS England was considering how to formally commemorate all those who have died while working to care for others, and will ask bereaved families for their involvement.  

NMC chief mourns ‘how much we have lost’

Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe marked the minute’s silence and said she felt ‘a pang of pain’ every time she heard of another registrant who had died from the disease.

‘Reading about their lives and careers, and the tributes from their families, friends and colleagues, brings home how much we have lost and has led, I’m not ashamed to say, to tears,’ she said.

England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May also expressed her sadness: 'Every death is a tragedy, but we feel the loss of fellow health and care workers particularly keenly.’

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