NHS staff protest outside Downing Street during Clap for Heroes

14 January 2021, 23:46 | Updated: 14 January 2021, 23:49

NHS staff held a banner outside Downing Street during Clap for Heroes
NHS staff held a banner outside Downing Street during Clap for Heroes. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

NHS staff gathered outside Downing Street to protest the Government's handling of Covid-19 during Clap for Heroes.

Nurses and doctors, dressed in PPE, unfurled a banner outside the No10 gates demanding Boris Johnson resign over his management of the pandemic.

Five hospital staff appeared carrying a sign which read "You failed the public, you failed the NHS, Boris must go" at 8pm on Thursday evening to coincide with the return of Clap for Heroes.

Read more: Northern Tory MPs pile pressure on Rishi Sunak for more Covid-19 support

The stunt, formerly known as Clap for Carers, was rebranded to include all key workers - but has come under fire from campaigners who are demanding a pay rise instead.

One of the protesters, ICU nurse Ameera Sheikh, told reporters: "It's been very difficult, very challenging.

"We're stressed out and very anxious, there's a lot of PTSD amongst staff, staff are going off sick ... leaving nurses very short, which increases the risk of patients deteriorating and ultimately patients dying.

"This is the Government's fault, they need to take responsibility, they need to provide us with better pay and better working conditions."

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Ms Sheikh continued: "It's 8pm, it's Thursday, it's Clap for Carers, whilst we appreciate the claps that the public are doing and some of them are staying at home, we do not appreciate our Government clapping for us because essentially they are the reason why we are in this position.

"They've not planned at all and they've had months to plan ahead and they've left us in such a terrible position."

Police confronted the NHS staff and asked them to move on
Police confronted the NHS staff and asked them to move on. Picture: PA Images

Police arrived quickly after the protest began and reminded the demonstrators of Covid-19 rules on gatherings before they dispersed.

It comes as a report published earlier this week revealed shocking levels of post-traumatic stress disorder and drinking problems among health service staff.

Meanwhile, many hospitals in England are struggling to cope with the rapidly increasing number of Covid-19 patients.

Read more: Boris Johnson warned 'lift lockdown or face leadership challenge'

Some are reporting to have double the number of people in ICU that at the peak of the first wave.

In the past 24 hours alone a further 1,248 people died after 28 testing days of testing positive for the virus.

It brings the total number of deaths to 89,243 - one of the highest in Europe.