On 5 July 2020, it will be 72 years since the National Health Service (NHS) was established. In NHS history, 2020 has been the most challenging year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has sickened more than 11 million and killed over 529,00 people so far.

This year, the NHS birthday is an opportunity to recognize, reflect and remember, encouraging people to celebrate the day by putting a light in their window to remember those who have died of COVID-19, the infection caused by the new coronavirus.

Also, households across the nation will take to their doorsteps for an appreciation clap for NHS workers. Downing Street will also be lit up, with a candle placed on the doorstep of No 10.

On Sunday evening, the dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London will light a candle in remembrance of the lives that have been lost during the pandemic.

A flypast by a World War II Spitfire fighter plane will take place over hospitals in the East of England. Nationwide applause inspired by the “Clap for Carers” initiative will also take place to commemorate the 72nd birthday of the NHS. 

In addition, a special program will be broadcasted on BBC One to celebrate the occasion.

The “Clap for Carers” initiative saw people across the nation showing appreciation for medical and health workers for 10 consecutive Thursday evenings during the pandemic.

Annemarie Plas, who initiated the campaign, said she is hoping that Sunday’s applause would mark the start of a yearly tradition to thank the nation’s public health service.

Meanwhile, the NHS has launched a new cadet program to encourage teenagers to take healthcare as their profession. In the program, teenagers will be training in first aid, developing leadership skills, and finding volunteer opportunities within the health service.

The program also aims to offer a route into employment for more than 10,000 young people by 2023. The organizers have been looking for people who may not have previously considered working with the NHS.

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for NHS England, said the scheme would give people “a genuine opportunity to get a taste of what it’s like to work in the best health service in the world.” The program is being piloted in London, Colchester, and Hull. It will be rolled out to Bradford, Liverpool, Hertfordshire, and the Wirral in the near future.