A group of UK doctors staged a silent demonstration on Downing Street in London. They donned scrubs and masks and knelt while holding a sign that read, "Doctors not martyrs."
These doctors chose to demonstrate at the same time that crowds gathered for the 8 p.m. "Clap for Carers," where the public shows their appreciation for healthcare workers on the front lines during the pandemic. But in the UK, 200 NHS staff members have died from COVID-19 so far. Claps aren't enough. And doctors are doctors, not martyrs.
Journalist Ben Smoke posted the powerful photos from the demonstration on Twitter. In one picture he posted, the doctors silently stare down armed police right on the other side of the gate from them.
According to Mirror, Annemarie Plas, the founder of the "Clap for Carers" weekly applause effort said that they should no longer clap. It's been going on for 10 weeks — people have lined the streets, stood in their driveways, and gathered at a safe social distance to show their appreciation for and support of healthcare workers.
But appreciation isn't enough. It doesn't seem quite as appropriate anymore to applaud for people who are walking into danger every single day. The clapping and cheering has also been criticized recently for becoming a "politicized" act.
The Mirror reports, "Some people take part in the clap then willfully ignore the plea to stay at home and avoid gatherings in an effort to ease the strain on the healthcare system." They clap to seem like they're doing something, and then they continue to put doctors' lives at risk with their actions every single day.
In another tweet, Ben Smoke writes that the doctors laid a wreath and then left at the end of their demonstration. "In a week where the discourse has been focused on the stupidity and arrogance of one man, it's a powerful reminder of the very real cost many are paying," he writes.
they laid a wreath (sorry crap photo but trying to avoid the press pack bc social d i s t a n c e) and then left. in a week where the discourse has been focused on the stupidity and arrogance of one man, it’s a powerful reminder of the very real cost many are paying. pic.twitter.com/pV8fKwjxGi— Ben Smoke (@bencsmoke) May 28, 2020
This is most likely a reference to Dominic Cummings, a senior adviser to Boris Johnson, who recently came under fire for taking several trips, one from London to Durham — 260 miles — and ignoring the mandate to shelter in place.
Cummings has since faced calls to resign, but Cummings has refused, even holding a press conference to claim that he acted "reasonably" and lawfully, even though his wife was sick when they traveled together and he got sick soon after with what they believe was COVID-19.
That London-Durham trip was in late March. Then, in mid-April, he was spotted 30 minutes away from where he'd traveled to. According to the BBC, he apparently took this second trip "to test whether his eyesight was good enough to drive," which in itself is a whole separate problem.
Lots of the outrage surrounding Cummings' actions stem from the fact that he reportedly helped draft the Stay Home order. You'd think he'd be able to follow something he wrote.
People like Dominic Cummings who are not taking the Stay Home order seriously are putting the lives of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers at risk every day. He is the reason doctors have to remind us that they are not martyrs. They didn't sign up to be sacrificed for the sake of other people's convenience.