Citing Respect and Pay, PM's COVID Nurse Has Quit

Boris Johnson praised Jenny McGee after his intensive care stay
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2021 3:22 PM CDT
Citing Respect and Pay, PM's COVID Nurse Has Quit
In an image made from video last year, Jenny McGee, shown in a video made last year, talks about British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's stay in St. Thomas Hospital.   (TVNZ via AP)

Boris Johnson praised Jenny McGee, one of the nurses who tended to the British prime minister when he was in intensive care with COVID-19, after his release from the hospital last year. But McGee isn't feeling appreciated by his government, so she's quit her job "after the toughest year of my nursing career," the BBC reports. McGee said she and her colleagues have been upset with the government's handling of the pandemic. On top of that, its proposed pay increase for National Health Service staff members is 1%. "We're not getting the respect and now pay that we deserve," McGee said in a TV documentary. "I'm so proud to have worked at St. Thomas' Hospital and to have been part of such a fantastic team," she said, but "I don't know how much more I've got to give to the NHS." McGee plans to work in the Caribbean, then take a break later this year in New Zealand, where she's from. She said she might return to the NHS someday.

In the documentary, McGee described a grim picture at the London hospital when Johnson was admitted, per Sky News. "All around him there was lots and lots of sick patients, some of whom were dying," she said. "I remember seeing him and thinking he looked very, very unwell." Johnson later invited her to a garden party for the NHS at 10 Downing Street, where she decided to "stay out" of a photo op. "Lots of nurses felt that the government hadn't led very effectively—the indecisiveness, so many mixed messages," McGee said. Johnson's office released a statement praising NHS employees in response, but Labor leader Keir Starmer called McGee's decision a "devastating indictment of Boris Johnson's approach to the people who put their lives on the line for him and our whole country." Nursing leaders warned that the NHS could lose more employees. And a Royal College of Nursing executive said the government needs to "demonstrate its respect by giving nurses a fair pay rise." (Read more Boris Johnson stories.)

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