Nurse who looked after Boris Johnson resigns over Govt handling of Covid-19 crisis

18 May 2021, 14:37 | Updated: 18 May 2021, 15:06

Nurse Jenny McGee arrives at Downing Street for a 72nd birthday celebration for the NHS in July 2020
Nurse Jenny McGee arrives at Downing Street for a 72nd birthday celebration for the NHS in July 2020. Picture: PA

By Daisy Stephens

A nurse who cared for the prime minister when he was in hospital with coronavirus has resigned, accusing the Government of treating NHS workers with a lack of "respect” during the Covid-19 crisis.

Jenny McGee, who devoted two days to care for Boris Johnson while he was in intensive care, handed in her resignation to St Thomas’ Hospital in London saying NHS workers were "not getting the respect and now pay that we deserve."

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust released this statement from Ms McGee: “After the toughest year of my nursing career, I’m taking a step back from the NHS but hope to return in the future.

"I’m excited to start a nursing contract in the Caribbean, before a holiday back home in New Zealand later in the year.

“I’m so proud to have worked at St Thomas’ hospital and to have been part of such a fantastic team.”

Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital with Covid-19 on April 5 2020, and went into intensive care a day later.

He spent three days there, and paid tribute to McGee and another nurse, Luis Pitarma, when he was discharged, saying that his survival was down to the fact that “every second of the night, they were watching”.

As well as criticising the Government's attitude towards NHS staff, Ms McGee also said that the photograph of her in the Downing Street gardens with Boris Johnson was the result of Mr Johnson’s staff trying to co-opt her into a “clap for the NHS” photo opportunity, at what she believed was a small ‘thank you’ visit.

Read more: Dominic Cummings threatens to release 'crucial' Covid document in tweet

She called the situation “upsetting”, saying: “It would have been a really good photo opportunity… but I wanted to stay out of it.

“Lots of nurses felt that the government hadn’t led very effectively, the indecisiveness, so many mixed messages.”

The comments, which were made in a Channel 4 documentary titled ‘The Year Britain Stopped’ to be broadcast on May 24, comes two months after a 1% pay rise was proposed for NHS staff, a move that was widely criticised.

In the documentary McGee also describes the strains the NHS has been under, particularly in the run up to Christmas 2020 when the Government was resisting mounting pressure to impose restrictions to stop the spread of Covid-19.

She acknowledged the hard work of her colleagues but emphasised the heavy burden it was having on them.

“Yes, we have put ourselves on the line and we have worked so incredibly hard, and there’s a lot of talk about how we’re all heroes and all that sort of stuff,” she said.

“But at the same time, I’m just not sure if I can do it.

“I don’t know how much more I’ve got to give to the NHS.”