Matt Frei 10am - 1pm
Praise heaped on NHS nurses Jenny and Luis who helped save Boris Johnson's life
13 April 2020, 07:51
Two NHS nurses who stood by the prime minister's bedside "when things could have gone either way" as he battled coronavirus were pictured today.
New Zealander Jenny McGee, 35 from Invercargill on the South Island , and Luis Pitarma, 29, from Portugal, were identified as key carers for Boris Johnson as he was gravely ill with coronavirus.
Mr Johnson used a speech on Sunday to mention by name the medics who had looked after him, particularly "two nurses who stood by my bedside for 48 hours when things could have gone either way".
He said the "NHS has saved my life, no question" after spending seven nights in St Thomas' in central London after contracting the coronavirus and was discharged at the weekend.
It is hard to find the words to express my debt to the NHS for saving my life.— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) April 12, 2020
The efforts of millions of people across this country to stay home are worth it. Together we will overcome this challenge, as we have overcome so many challenges in the past. #StayHomeSaveLives pic.twitter.com/HK7Ch8BMB5
One of nurses mentioned by Mr Johnson, Jenny from Invercargill on New Zealand's South Island, has been identified as Jenny McGee.
Her brother Rob told the New Zealand Herald the family had spoken with Ms McGee just as she was "about to head off to do another night shift".
He told the paper: "We are all very proud of Jen, not just in the support she gave Boris - but what she has been doing helping everyday people.
"Whilst she is blown away by Boris's recognition, she is just really pleased to see the public recognition for the amazing work the NHS is doing - that made her really proud."
Ms McGee attended the Verdon College in Invercargill, and they said the community was "so proud" and that she had wanted to be a nurse since leaving in 2002.
The school said: "Our sincerest admiration for the work and dedication of past pupil Jenny McGee who was singled out by UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson for helping him get through his serious illness due to Covid-19.
"Jenny is described by her past teachers as an absolutely delightful person and someone who had a caring and humble nature.
"Thanks Jenny for your courage, outstanding work and the example you have provided for everyone at this difficult time. Your old school community is so proud of you!"
Meanwhile, mayor of the city Sir Tim Shadbolt told Stuff.co.nz "It's not very often a nurse from Invercargill saves the life of the British Prime Minister."
"Your steadfast commitment is making a difference. Please keep going. Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives." – Health Secretary @MattHancock giving an update on increases in NHS capacity at today's #coronavirus press conference.#StayHomeSaveLives pic.twitter.com/1NPSmQ7mP2— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) April 12, 2020
The other nurse mentioned by Mr Johnson - Luis from Portugal, near Porto - has been named as Luis Pitarma and has been thanked by Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
A statement on the presidential website said: "President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has already personally thanked the nurse Luis Pitarma, and... also thanks the commitment of all Portuguese health professionals who in Portugal and around the world are providing decisive help in the fight to the pandemic.
The statement added that president offered "encouragement that is also addressed to professionals of other nationalities who, reinforcing the National Health Service, provide an invaluable service to Portugal".