A nurse who cared for Boris Johnson as he battled coronavirus in hospital has resigned over the ‘lack of respect’ shown by the government for the NHS.

Jenny McGee, who was by the prime minister’s bedside for two days when he was in intensive care last April, said she felt deeply disappointed at how healthcare workers had been treated – particularly over nurses’ pay.

Ministers have refused to budge over a ‘kick in the teeth’ proposal to increase pay for nurses in England by just 1%, compared to 4% in Scotland.

‘We’re not getting the respect and now pay that we deserve. I’m just sick of it. So I’ve handed in my resignation,’ Ms McGee said.

She also blasted the government’s handling of the Covid crisis, saying: ‘Lots of nurses felt that the government hadn’t led very effectively – the indecisiveness, so many mixed messages. It was just very upsetting.’

She told how she found the Prime Minister in April 2020 when she arrived at work.

‘All around him there was lots and lots of sick patients, some of whom were dying,’ she said.

‘I remember seeing him and thinking he looked very, very unwell.

‘He was a different colour really.’

Johnson thanked McGee and another nurse, Luis Pitarma, on the day he left hospital.

He told the world: ‘The reason in the end my body did start to get enough oxygen was because for every second of the night, they were watching.’

Months later the PM was pictured hosting the pair in the garden of Downing Street to mark 72 years of the NHS.

McGee, who is originally from New Zealand, said she had been asked but declined to take part in a ‘clap for carers’ at the event in July.

She said: ‘It would have been a really good photo opportunity.

‘You know, kind of like Boris and his NHS friends, but I wanted to stay out of it.

‘Yes, we have put ourselves on the line and we have worked so incredibly hard, and there’s a lot of talk about how we’re all heroes and all that sort of stuff.

‘But at the same time, I’m just not sure if I can do it.

‘I don’t know how much more I’ve got to give to the NHS.

‘We’re not getting the respect and now pay that we deserve.

‘I’m just sick of it.

‘So I’ve handed in my resignation.’

The  documentary – The Year Britain Stopped – comes a year on from the Dominic Cummings scandal.

The former aide’s lockdown rule breach is described in the programme as a turning point for when the sense of togetherness that the UK could beat the pandemic began to fray.

McGee described the sense of hopelessness that befell upon nurses as the second wave hit, describing it as ‘an absolute shitshow’.

‘This time there was more than the first surge. The nurses are stretched even more. An absolute shitshow to be honest. At that point, I don’t know how to describe the horrendousness of what we were going through. We were desperate.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Ms McGee’s decision was a ‘devastating indictment of Boris Johnson’s approach to the people who put their lives on the line for him and our whole country’.

Pat Cullen, acting general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘There are already tens of thousands of nursing vacancies and we continue to warn of an exodus from the profession if the Government does not demonstrate its respect by giving nurses a fair pay rise for the skilled work they do.’

In a statement released on Tuesday through Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Ms McGee said: ‘After the toughest year of my nursing career, I’m taking a step back from the NHS but hope to return in the future.

‘I’m excited to start a nursing contract in the Caribbean, before a holiday back home in New Zealand later in the year.

‘I’m so proud to have worked at St Thomas’ Hospital and to have been part of such a fantastic team.’

A No 10 spokesperson said: ‘Our NHS staff have gone above and beyond over the past year and this Government will do everything in our power to support them.

‘We are extremely grateful for the care NHS staff have provided throughout the pandemic in particular.

‘That is why they have been exempted from the public sector wide pay freeze implemented as a result of the difficult economic situation created by the pandemic.

‘At the same time we have invested £30 million to support staff mental health and are expanding the number of places available for domestic students at medical schools in England to continue expanding our workforce.’

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