Woman providing medical care for an elderly patient

NHS celebrates pandemic efforts during International Women’s Day

As part of its celebrations for International Women’s Day, the NHS has praised the vital tole played by hundreds of thousands of women in the country’s response to the pandemic.

More than three quarters of the NHS’ 1.3 million members of staff are women and many have been at the forefront of the NHS’ response during Covid-19.

According to recent statistics, women make up 76.7% of NHS staff, including:

  • 88.6% of the 342,000 registered nurses and health visitors
  • 42.5% of the 18,500 ambulance staff
  • 77.6% of the 172,250 scientific, therapeutic and technical staff
  • 62% of the 22,500 managers

In addition to the challenges of the pandemic, women have played a leading part in the rollout of the largest vaccination programme in the history of the health service, which was spearheaded by NHS Chief Commercial Officer Dr Emily Lawson.

Already, the NHS has vaccinated more than 19 million people across England - the fastest roll out of the vaccine in Europe - and continues to be gaining momentum.

Reflecting on the past year, Dr Lawson said: “I could not be prouder of all that we have achieved collectively over the past year, with many thousands of my colleagues who are women forming the driving force of the vaccination rollout.

“Being a part of the biggest vaccination drive in NHS history has been the privilege of my career. It is an incredible team effort and as well as offering people huge hope in the pandemic it is saving people’s lives.

“When you think about the host of Covid heroes, so many women spring to mind – from May Parsons who administered the first jab to Nikki Kanani leading the way in primary care and encouraging uptake in BAME communities. While the last year has been the toughest in most of our lives, it has never been a prouder time to be a woman working in the NHS.”

NHS England Medical Director of Primary Care, Dr Nikki Kanani, added: “From juggling home-schooling to supporting primary care teams around the country to adjust to a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and appearing at multiple Downing Street press conferences, it has been a year like no other.

“Covid-19 has had a huge impact on all of our lives and I have been so proud of the way my colleagues across the NHS have adapted to the challenges we have faced in the last 12 months.

“I have continued to work as a general practitioner throughout the pandemic but have also used my role as NHS England Medical Director of Primary Care to navigate practices across England through a rapid change, from almost entirely face-to-face work, to almost completely digital and remote work.

“It has presented a host of challenges to family doctors and their teams, who have stepped up and adapted to the change while also more recently being a core part of the largest vaccination programme in NHS history.

“Like my colleagues, I have been helping to vaccinate the most vulnerable, and last month I launched the NHS blueprint to increase vaccine confidence, which has become a hugely important part of our roll out.

“It’s vital that everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or class, benefits from the vaccine, which is the fastest and safest way to open up our communities again.”

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