Nurses and partygate: we watched people die while they celebrated
Anger at Boris Johnson and the conduct of lockdown-breaking political staff, as healthcare workers recall isolation of the dying and bereaved in pandemic
Nurses shared memories of watching people die during the pandemic, ahead of the Commons debate on report findings that former prime minister Boris Johnson repeatedly misled parliament over lockdown parties.
A committee of MPs concluded he had ‘personal knowledge about gatherings which he should have disclosed’. It also found he deliberately misled the House when he repeatedly said no COVID rules had been broken, or that he had been assured none had been broken.
The committee recommended Mr Johnson be suspended from parliament for 90 days, but he avoided sanction by resigning as an MP on 9 June.
‘They chose to party while we watched people dying’
Nurses recalled being unable to attend loved ones’ funerals and having to watch people dying ‘while they chose to party’.
Senior nurse leader Dionne Daniel told Nursing Standard: ‘I am appalled by this. I had to say goodbye to my dad via WhatsApp and look at his funeral online.
‘Boris Johnson should never be seen in politics again. Everyone who defends him or votes against the sanctions should be wiped out in the next election. I am thinking of my colleagues who lost their lives during the pandemic, those battling long-COVID, and all the people still traumatised. This should be a time of reflection and not blustering.’
And a mental health nurse in the north of England, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: ‘The fact they chose to party while we were watching people dying is not only obscene, but truly demonstrates how removed they are from reality for most people in this country.
‘Hopefully this report will finally bring some justice for people affected and prove to others how little we can trust those currently in charge with our precious healthcare system.’
Video of office party when indoor socialising was banned
The comments come as a video leaked to the Daily Mirror over the weekend showed Conservative party workers dancing, drinking and joking about breaking COVID rules at a Christmas party in 2020. This was at a time when socialising indoors was banned, meaning many nurses and other healthcare staff were the last to see patients alive due to hospital-visiting restrictions.
Just days before Christmas 2020, Mr Johnson told the nation that families must not spend the festive season together.
In his resignation statement, Mr Johnson maintained he did not lie to MPs and said the committee had ‘still not produced a shred of evidence’ he had knowingly or recklessly misled the Commons.
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