A New Zealand nurse who was praised by the British prime minister for her care has been “blown away” by the recognition, her brother said.
Boris Johnson used a speech on Sunday to mention by name the medics who had looked after him, particularly “two nurses who stood by my bedside for 48 hours when things could have gone either way”.
Johnson said the “NHS has saved my life, no question” after spending seven nights at St Thomas’ in central London after contracting coronavirus. He was discharged at the weekend.
One of the nurses mentioned by Johnson, Jenny from Invercargill on New Zealand’s South Island, has been identified as Jenny McGee.
Her brother Rob told the New Zealand Herald the family had spoken with McGee just as she was “about to head off to do another night shift”.
He told the paper: “We are all very proud of Jen, not just in the support she gave Boris – but what she has been doing helping everyday people.
“Whilst she is blown away by Boris’s recognition, she is just really pleased to see the public recognition for the amazing work the NHS is doing – that made her really proud.”
McGee attended Verdon College in Invercargill, which issued a statement saying the community was “so proud” of her and that she had wanted to be a nurse since leaving in 2002.
The school said: “Our sincerest admiration for the work and dedication of past pupil Jenny McGee who was singled out by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for helping him get through his serious illness due to COVID-19.
“Jenny is described by her past teachers as an absolutely delightful person and someone who had a caring and humble nature.
“Thanks, Jenny for your courage, outstanding work and the example you have provided for everyone at this difficult time. Your old school community is so proud of you!”
The city’s mayor, Sir Tim Shadbolt, told Stuff.co.nz: “It’s not very often a nurse from Invercargill saves the life of the British prime minister.”
The other nurse mentioned by Johnson – Luis, from near Porto in Portugal – was named as Luis Pitarma and has been thanked by the Portuguese president.
A statement on the presidential website said: “President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has already personally thanked the nurse Luis Pitarma, and ... also thanks to the commitment of all Portuguese health professionals who in Portugal and around the world are providing decisive help in the fight to the pandemic.”