Boris Johnson praises NHS medics from Portugal and New Zealand who ‘saved his life’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he speaks from 10 Downing Street praising NHS staff in a video message for saving his life...

Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he speaks from 10 Downing Street praising NHS staff in a video message for saving his life as he was discharged from hospital a week after being admitted with persistent coronavirus symptoms. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has paid tribute to the NHS and praised the medics from New Zealand and Portugal who he said had saved his life.

The prime minister said he had personally 'seen the pressure the NHS is under' and listed the essential staff including cleaners, cooks and all healthcare workers who he said had shown 'personal courage' by continuing to work and 'risking this deadly virus'.

He said: 'It is thanks to that courage, that devotion, that duty and that love that our NHS has been unbeatable.'

The Conservative Party leader mentioned 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'.

Naming them as Jenny from Invercargill on New Zealand's South Island and Luis from Portugal, near Porto, Johnson gave an insight into just how serious things had become at one stage.

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He said: 'The reason in the end my body did start to get enough oxygen was because for every second of the night they were watching and they were thinking and they were caring and making the interventions I needed.'

Shortly after news of his release, Ms Symonds had tweeted to pay tribute to the 'magnificent NHS'.

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She said: 'I will never, ever be able to repay you and I will never stop thanking you.

'There were times last week that were very dark indeed. My heart goes out to all those in similar situations, worried sick about their loved ones.

'Thank you also to everyone who sent such kind messages of support. Today I'm feeling incredibly lucky.'

One of the nurses was laten identified as Jenny McGee.

Speaking to Television New Zealand, her mother Caroline McGee said: 'It makes us feel exceptionally proud obviously.

'But she has told us these things over the years and it doesn't matter what patient she is looking after, this is what she does.'

She added: 'I just find it incredible that she, any nurses, can do this for 12 hours, sit and watch a patient and twiddle away with all the different knobs and things they do to keep their patients alive, it's absolutely amazing.'

The other nurse - Luis from Portugal, near Porto - has been named as Luis Pitarma and has been thanked by Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

A statement on the presidential website said: 'President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has already personally thanked the nurse Luis Pitarma, and... also thanks the commitment of all Portuguese health professionals who in Portugal and around the world are providing decisive help in the fight to the pandemic.'

The statement added that the president offered 'encouragement that is also addressed to professionals of other nationalities who, reinforcing the National Health Service, provide an invaluable service to Portugal'.

Johnson is now recuperating at his official country retreat of Chequers, a 16th century Buckinghamshire mansion, following the seven-night spell in hospital.

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