Coronavirus: Boris Johnson ICU nurse said he 'absolutely needed to be there'

23 April 2020, 08:23

By Megan White

A Kiwi nurse who helped save Boris Johnson’s life in intensive care said he “absolutely needed to be there” after his coronavirus symptoms worsened.

Jenny McGee, who has been an NHS nurse for ten years, was publicly praised by the Prime Minister for her hard work in the ICU at St Thomas’ Hospital.

The PM, 55, was admitted to hospital on April 5, ten days after confirming he had tested positive for coronavirus, but was moved to intensive care two days later.


After his release, he thanked “Jenny from New Zealand” and “Luís Pitarma from Portugal,” saying their care was the reason he pulled through.

In her first interview, she denied Mr Johnson received special treatment and said being in an ICU is a “very scary thing.”

Boris Johnson thanked Jenny McGee publicly after he was released from hospital
Boris Johnson thanked Jenny McGee publicly after he was released from hospital. Picture: PA

The 35-year-old told TVNZ: “We take it very seriously who comes into intensive care, these patients who come into us.

“It’s a very scary thing for them so we don’t take it lightly and he absolutely needed to be there.

“We’re constantly observing, constantly monitoring, constantly guiding therapy and feeding back to the doctor but we also have a lot of autonomy as well.”

Ms McGee said she had “no idea” the Prime Minister would be thanking her and initially thought it was “a joke.”

She added: ““My first reaction was that it was a joke! I thought my friends were playing a joke on me. I wasn’t expecting it - it was totally out of the blue and it was just a shock. I couldn’t believe what he said on TV.

“I was just doing my usual routine for night shift and someone texted me and said ‘Jenny from New Zealand’ and I was like, wow! I think that’s me!”

She said the pair discussed her hometown, Invercargill, on the country’s South Island, and said Mr Johnson was “interested in where I came from and what my story was and we spent a lot of time together and we talked away about New Zealand.”

Ms McGee was also contacted by her home country’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who she had “a little bit of banter” with.

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She said: “It was so overwhelming and when I turned my phone on in the morning people were like 'Jenny you need to look at your Facebook' and I was called a snob for not responding to Jacinda.

“It’s very surreal to have a message from Jacinda. She’s a hero of mine. I think she’s amazing, she just said how proud she was of me and the country was so proud and it was so heartwarming and that’s something I will never forget.

“I responded and she like messaged back immediately, a little bit of banter which again was surreal, a couple of emojis and so it was very, very surreal experience.”