NHS Sunday clap: What time is it and why is it happening?

Sophie Gallagher
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Clap for Carers will return on Sunday 5 July for a one-off event after the weekly lockdown clap was ended on 28 May.

The clap began at the start of lockdown with members of the public applauding from their doorsteps and windows every Thursday at 8pm to honour NHS staff, supermarket workers, teachers and other frontline employees who were instrumental in the fight against Covid-19.

Annemarie Plas, the founder of Clap for Carers, eventually called for the event to come to a close after its 10th consecutive week – Plas said it should end while “at its peak”.

The clap had also faced growing criticism from some doctors and other frontline workers, who said it was meaningless while the NHS continued to face problems such as low wages for critical staff and a continuing shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

But now, in celebration of the 72nd anniversary of the NHS, the clap is making a comeback.

What time is it on Sunday?

Sunday 5 July marks 72 years of the National Health Service in the UK.

To mark the occasion, members of the public are being asked to come out of their homes and join a nationwide clap at 5pm (even if you have a hangover from the pubs reopening on Saturday).

Broadcasters will also reportedly suspend transmission for a minute as a sign of respect for the NHS.

Public buildings, including the Royal Albert Hall, Blackpool Tower, the Shard and the Wembley Arch will also be lit up in blue to mark the occasion.

Instead of Clap for Carers the event is being called the Thank You NHS clap.

After the clap, people are being encouraged to share a (socially distanced) cup of tea or food with their friends and neighbours.

People have also been asked to put a candle or a torch in their window in memory of all those who have died from coronavirus.

Why is this happening?

On 10 June, Together – a coalition of community groups – published an open letter on its website calling on the UK to take part in one final clap.

The letter’s signatories included Ms Plas (who started Clap for Carers); Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS; the Royal College of Nursing; the Jo Cox foundation; the Archbishop of Canterbury; the National Federation of Women’s Institutes; sports broadcaster Gary Linekar; and actor Michael Sheen.

The letter read: “We all owe a debt of gratitude to the nurses, doctors, physios, porters, cleaners, and countless others who have delivered for patients and their families along with all those in the care sector.”

It also emphasised the key role the NHS has played throughout its 72-year history, “treating everyone regardless of the ability to pay”.

It is hoped that the clap will become an annual tradition in the UK, with the nation always marking 5 July by applauding the NHS.

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