First, let me place on the record my thanks to my constituents in Darlington who have taken time to sign petitions and to those who have emailed me to express their gratitude for the exceptional service of our NHS and social care workers. Today’s debate is an opportunity to place on the record both their thanks and my own for the tremendous work of the NHS not only during this pandemic, but every day and every night of every year.
Over the past few months, our nation has come together to save the NHS from being overwhelmed, but it has also united every Thursday with its clap for carers. Darlington’s own newspaper, The Northern Echo, recently published a supplement featuring the incredible work of our health and care workers, providing a permanent record of an army of previously unsung heroes, and I thank it for that recognition.
Throughout the period of the lockdown, I was in weekly contact with Sue Jacques, the chief executive of our local NHS trust based at Darlington Memorial Hospital. Sue shared with me and other Members of this House from the region news of how the NHS locally was responding to the crisis. We were given: updates on PPE supplies, which never ran out; numbers of covid patients they were treating; and many, many stories of service above self from the team. I want to place on the record my thanks to Sue for her leadership throughout the pandemic and for her open and transparent engagement with me. The entire team at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has been truly incredible and I thank them all.
I have been in regular contact with many throughout the care sector in my constituency over the past few months and, like the efforts that we have seen in the NHS there has been incredible service, sacrifice and support for our elderly and vulnerable. I pay my thanks to them all for everything that they have done and are continuing to do.
In addition to the health and care community of Darlington, many hundreds of people have stepped up to the plate and gone above and beyond. There are literally hundreds of examples, but I particularly want to highlight the work of the Mowden pub and Maggie’s Place, the entertainment provided by Peter Miller, the exceptional service of Joanne Hammond and the efforts of Louise Graham and the team at Food for Thought. They truly are the best of us, and they have underpinned the efforts of all our key workers, not just those in the health and care sector. Again, I want to place on record my thanks to them on behalf of everyone in Darlington.
The NHS long-term plan sets out to make the NHS a world-class employer, and I understand that the NHS people plan will lay down how all NHS staff will be supported and recognised. I look forward to its publication. I fully endorse the steps that the Government have taken to support the families of the key health and care workers who have tragically lost their lives, with the commitment to the death in service award—