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Healthcare workers ‘felt under-appreciated’ amid weekly pandemic Clap for Carers

06 Oct 2023 2 minute read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds outside 10 Downing Street in London, joining in the applause to salute local heroes during the nationwide Clap for Carers. Photo Victoria Jones PA images

NHS and care staff felt under-appreciated when the weekly doorstep clap was taking place in the pandemic, the UK Covid-19 Inquiry has heard.

Kate Bell, of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said “claps don’t pay the bills” and explained that healthcare staff felt people could not understand the scale of what workers were experiencing as the virus ripped through hospitals and care homes.

Ms Bell told the hearing that while the feeling did not quite amount to resentment, the clapping – which then-prime minister Boris Johnson took part in outside Downing Street – came against a backdrop of pay and conditions “not being recognised” by the Government.

Inquiry counsel Andrew O’Connor KC said: “One other theme that comes through from this passage and also from some others in your statement is a feeling amongst care workers and NHS workers of something close to resentment at the public clapping during the pandemic. Can you tell us a little about that?”

Ms Bell replied: “I think it does come through and I think resentment is not quite the right word, but perhaps a feeling that it didn’t, that people could not understand the scale of what they were experiencing.”


Interjecting, inquiry chairwoman Baroness Heather Hallett said: “They were under-appreciated?”

Ms Bell agreed, saying: “That they were under-appreciated, under-appreciated the scale of what they were experiencing, the lack of clarity or guidance that they needed in order to do their jobs. And of course, their long-running concerns before the pandemic which we have talked about, about their pay and conditions not being recognised.

“Claps don’t pay the bills, as many workers have been chanting this year.”

Across the country people – including politicians such as Mr Johnson and even members of the royal family – took part in the so-called Clap for Carers on a Thursday night in recognition of the efforts of key workers in the pandemic.

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