NEWS
05/07/2020 18:15 BST | Updated 06/07/2020 13:47 BST

Boris Johnson Leads Nationwide Clap As Protesters Call To End 'Racial Disparity Within NHS'

The prime minister joined in a round of applause to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.

Boris Johnson has joined people in a nationwide round of applause to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.

Members of the public were encouraged to join in clapping for the NHS at 5pm on Sunday as a gesture of thanks to the staff who have worked throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

It took place as dozens of protesters gathered in London on Sunday afternoon to call an end of racial disparity in the health system. 

The demonstration was organised by the group All Black Lives UK (ABLUK) - which is separate from the main Black Lives Matter movement - who was also responsible for organising the protest in Bristol that led to the statue of Edward Colston being pulled down.

“We are protesting for Black lives and one of the demands we have is to abolish the racial disparity within the NHS, especially towards Black women,” ABLUK spokesperson Tyrek Morris told the crowd.

“We need to implement extensive measures to prevent the disproportionate suffering of Black women in healthcare and bring to an end the significantly increased Black maternal mortality rate.”

The protest, which moved from Marble Arch towards Downing Street, also called for the defunding of the police.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
People hold placards, during an All Black Lives UK protest in London.

Morris said: “Defund the police does not mean abolishing the police. We need police.

“When we say defund the police, we don’t mean abolish the police, we mean take some of that money that you’re putting heavily into Scotland Yard and invest that into the community.

“The lower class systems, but mainly the black community. You take care of the community, you get less crime, you get less violence, you get less poverty.”

The prime minister met with NHS workers in the garden of Number 10 earlier that day, and public buildings including the Royal Albert Hall, Blackpool Tower and the Shard have been lit up blue in tribute to the health service.

On Friday, Johnson said he “does not believe in gestures” when asked on LBC if he would take the knee for Black Lives Matter.

Speaking at a press conference on the same day, Johnson urged people to clap for “those who have worked tirelessly and selflessly to help the nation get through this pandemic”.

Health secretary Matt Hancock tweeted a photo of himself shortly after the nationwide round of applause.

Labour leader Keir Starmer also paid tribute to the NHS, saying it was “very personal” for him as his late mother was a nurse and later relied on the NHS when she became ill.

He said: “Many, many times she got gravely ill and it was the NHS that she turned to, and I remember as a boy, a teenager, being in high dependency units, in intensive care units, with my mum, watching nurses and other support staff keep my mum alive.

“They did that on more than one occasion – it’s etched in my memory. For them, it was just the day job. They were doing that every day.

“So, it’s very personal for me and I’m very grateful to the NHS and my mum was very grateful, she loved the NHS through the many decades that she absolutely depended on them.”

Meanwhile figures from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) showed the number of people who have died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus risen to 44,220 – an increase of 22 over 24 hours.

A total of 285,416 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed.