The nurse who looked after Boris Johnson in intensive care thought her friends were “playing a joke” on her when she found out the prime minister publicly thanked her.
Jenny McGee, referred to as ‘Jenny from New Zealand’ by Mr Johnson, said the prospect of treating the prime minister did not faze her and was simply part of “another day at the office”.
She was singled out for thanks after the prime minister was discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital, where he was treated for Covid-19.
“My first reaction was that it was a joke! I thought my friends were playing a joke on me. I wasn’t expecting it... it was totally out of the blue and it was just shock,” she said.
“I was getting ready for night shift and I was just doing my usual routine for night shift and someone texted me and said ‘Jenny from New Zealand’ and I was like 'wow I think that’s me, yeah'.”
She admitted it was “surreal” to hear about Mr Johnson on the news after her shift, having been looking after him all day.
She stood by his bedside for 48 hours, which is part of her “normal intensive care duties”, she said.
“I’ve worked in intensive care for ten years… I’ve been in charge for five years and I’ve been in stressful situations and I was not fazed by this, it was just another day at the office,” she said.
Ms McGee said she and the prime minister “chatted away” and that he took an interest in where she came from and what her story was.
Her role in treating the prime minister has been a source of pride for her home country, with even New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern reaching out – and having “a little bit of banter”.
“It’s very surreal to have a message from Jacinda. She’s a hero of mine,” she said.
“I think she’s amazing, she just said how proud she was of me and the country was so proud and it was so heart-warming and that’s something I will never forget.”
Back in London, Ms McGee said she still gets “a lot of stick” from her colleagues, which has been some needed “light relief” from the stresses of their job.
She added: “We’re putting in the hours, working long hours and we’re physically exhausted and it’s taking an emotional strain on us as well but the great thing coming out of all this is the wonderful sense of spirit and teamwork in NHS.
“The team I work with, everyone is stepping up and we’re coming together, there’s camaraderie and we’re going to do this! We won’t be beaten!”
Jenny McGee's parents speak of their pride
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