Happy 72nd birthday to the NHS! 💙

The NHS is celebrating its 72nd anniversary on Sunday after facing the most challenging year in its history.

The occasion will be marked by a round of applause at 5pm to commemorate the efforts of all key workers and volunteers during the pandemic, which will be broadcast live.

A Spitfire with the message "Thank U NHS" painted on its underside will also fly over several NHS hospitals in the east of the country, finishing over Cambridge.

More than 100,000 hospital inpatients have been treated for Covid-19 in the UK, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, along with many more who suffered with the virus at home.

Members of the armed forces constructed eight NHS Nightingale hospitals within weeks, which are all now being held on standby.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said hospital workers have only been able to pull the country through the pandemic thanks to a "national mobilisation" of all key workers, from care assistants and supermarket shelf-stackers to transport workers.

Speaking to the PA news agency outside St Thomas' Hospital in London, he said the NHS's anniversary is an opportunity to thank these key workers.

He said: "I think for NHS there will be a sense of relief, having coming through this huge first spike of coronavirus patients, but also people have been working incredibly hard.

"So there's a need to take a moment to reflect and recharge the batteries while at the same time doing all the other brilliant things that the health service does.

"This is a huge national effort and the NHS is hugely grateful for all the support it has received from all of the rest of the country."