Football fans champion the NHS

Supporters show appreciation for health service by applauding in the 68th minute – signifying the age of the NHS

UNISON Cymru Wales is welcoming the efforts of football fans up and down the land as they give thanks to the NHS at this weekend’s fixtures. Supporters will show their appreciation for the good work of the health service by applauding in the 68th minute – signifying the age of the NHS.

Various fans’ trusts including Swansea City and Newcastle United have got behind the #celebrateNHS68 campaign being sponsored by a Doctor Chris James to “Help bring a much needed NHS smile.” 

Steve Belcher, UNISON organiser and life-long Swansea City fan said: “In the hurly-burly knockabout of politics, the hard work and dedication of individual NHS  employees is often forgotten as politicians search for an easy headline.

“As a Swans fan, I am very pleased fellow fans of my club will be showing their support for the health service on Sunday.

“The NHS is part of the fabric of our nation and the wonderful work of its staff should be celebrated more often.” 

Earlier this week, UNISON Cymru Wales launched the #iamthewelshnhs campaign to challenge cynical and cheap political attacks against the health service.

UNISON wants to highlight how ‘lazy political hits’ damage morale and the relationship of trust between patients and staff.

Wales TUC and the health unions have previously denounced the claims made by Prime Minister David Cameron that the border between England and Wales had become “a line between life and death”.

 The Nuffield and OECD Reports in 2015 and 2016 have shown in overall terms there is no health service either in England or any of the devolved nations which could claim to be better than the others.      

During the Welsh Assembly election campaign, health workers are being encouraged to use the hashtag #iamthewelshnhs, with images and updates to promote the work undertaken by staff from across Wales. The campaign website is live




Notes to Editors

Dr Chris John wrote to supporters trusts:

“Dear Football Fans,

2016 marks 68 years of the NHS and we write to you in hope that you may be able to help us in organising a small gesture to help with morale, which unfortunately finds itself at rock bottom.

We are aware that the NHS is a heavily political beast and with the current Junior Doctor contract dispute we understand that people have strong views as to the rights and wrongs of this. We do not write to you to sway you either way on this issue. Rather we are asking for you to join us in celebrating the efforts of 1.4 million workers, not to mention the many who came before us over the last 68 years, in providing free world-class healthcare for all, regardless of means or status, from cradle to grave. We believe that is a beautiful ideal that is celebrated far too infrequently. 

We would ask that on the weekend of 23/24th April 2016 you join us in celebrating those 68 years of service with a minute of applause on the 68th minute of fixtures nationwide.

Morale is at rock bottom in the NHS. We are a service at breaking point and it is only due to the goodwill of the incredible staff that we are able to continue to provide safe patient care. As a Junior Doctor it is an absolute privilege to work alongside the consultants, nurses, physios, occupational therapists, pharmacists, porters, cleaners, managers and a host of others who make the NHS the service that it is today. Furthermore, it remains a privilege to provide this service 24/7, 365 days a year and it is for the right to do so safely that we find ourselves in dispute with this government.

I do not, however, ask you to support our cause as Junior Doctors. I do not ask you to apply political pressure or make political statements. I would simply ask that you help us spread a much needed NHS smile to combat the tears and frowns that I am seeing all too often on the wards of a once great institution.

Football is the great leveller and brings so much joy to so many millions. A one minute ovation on the 68th minute of 6 premier league games across the weekend of 23/24th April could spread smiles across 1.4 million NHS staff and hopefully spread a few onto the faces of their friends and families as well.

With Hope,

Dr Chris James”



Alastair Gittins, UNISON Press Officer on 07816 538397