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NHS at 73: Local healthcare leaders reflect on success in challenging year

Healthcare leaders in the Vale of York are marking the 73rd birthday of the NHS by reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 and the success of the vaccine rollout.

The NHS, and the country as a whole, has experienced an extremely challenging year, but it has also been a year of hope that has seen the successful rollout of the biggest vaccination programme in the history of the health service.

In the Vale of York, there has been over 434,000 vaccine doses delivered since December 2020 which has been made possible through the skill and dedication of staff, returners, volunteers and keyworkers, as well as strong partnership working across communities.

Communities across the country, including staff and volunteers at Askham Bar Vaccination Centre, will be marking the NHS' birthday on Monday 5 July with tea parties to acknowledge the important role the NHS has played since the start of the pandemic.

The day will also provide an opportunity to remember those who have been affected most by the virus, with many people having lost loved ones since it began. Local landmarks, such as the York City Walls, and iconic buildings all over the UK will be lighting up blue to remember those who lost their lives.

Dr Nigel Wells, Clinical Chair of NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: "Today gives us all the opportunity to say 'thank you' to everyone who has been involved in our response to the pandemic. People across the country have had an impact, from unwavering care staff and key workers who have risen to the challenge, to members of the public who have carefully followed social distancing rules."

"This has been a challenging period for many people, not just those who work in the health service, but it has also demonstrated that the NHS is as important as ever – even after 73 years."

Michelle Carrington, Executive Director of Quality and Nursing at NHS Vale of York CCG, paid tribute to frontline care workers: "Since the beginning of this pandemic, staff in care settings across the country have shown kindness, fortitude and resilience like never before. The community spirit and positive relationships developed is something we value and want to build on. Everyone who has directly supported our pandemic response and kept services running in the most challenging circumstances is deserving of the highest praise."

Professor Mike Holmes, Chair of Nimbuscare, said: "We have made excellent progress with the rollout of the vaccination programme in York and the surrounding area, and it has been really encouraging to see so many people get the jab. Its success would not have been possible without the tireless work of our partners in local authorities, organisations, the voluntary sector, and every single staff member and volunteer working in our vaccination centres."

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for those who work in the NHS, it has also proved to be hugely rewarding with the so-called 'Nightingale effect' fuelling public interest in working for the health service.

The NHS in England has over 350 different careers available and recruiting more staff will be vital to tackle the impact of the virus and deliver the NHS Long Term Plan. More information about careers can be found on the NHS Jobs website.

The National Health Service was founded in 1948 to be a bold and pioneering service to make healthcare no longer exclusive to those who could afford it, but accessible to everyone. Its creation marked a significant chapter in British social history.

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