Photo of Dr Sarah Zaidi and Dr Smitesh Patel standing outside St Paul's Cathedral

We all have someone to say thank you to this year.

The NHS’s 73rd birthday offers us all a chance to say a big thank you.

Two local NHS GP’s who were on the frontline in the battle against COVID-19 will be at the heart of a special service of commemoration and thanksgiving to be held at St Paul’s Cathedral on Monday, 5 July at 11am, the 73rd anniversary of the health service’s foundation.

The service will recognise the contribution made by so many people to the pandemic response including most recently the vaccination programme.

It will be led by the Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s and the Right Reverend and Right Honourable Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London

Attending the event from Mid and South Essex will be Dr Sarah Zaidi and Dr Smitesh Patel in recognition of their work throughout the pandemic.

Dr Sarah Zaidi, GP, based at Eastwood Group Practice in Leigh-on-Sea is the daughter of Dr Habib Zaidi, the first NHS GP in the country lost to COVID-19. Within weeks, she was back on the frontline supporting local people in care homes and the wider community.

Dr Smitesh Patel, GP and vaccination lead in Benfleet, spearheaded the development of the COVID-19 vax van to reach specific communities who don’t engage with local health services easily to ensure nobody was left unvaccinated.

Dr Zaidi and Dr Patel will join NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens, NHS Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis, and England’s Chief Nurse, Ruth May, among others.

Anthony McKeever, Executive Lead Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership and Accountable Officer for Mid & South Essex’s five CCGs said:

“There is no doubt that the last twelve months have proved to be uniquely challenging for the health service and the country. I’m incredibly proud of our amazing NHS staff who rose to the challenge, not just providing care to coronavirus and other patients supported by volunteers and countless others, but also delivered the NHS COVID Vaccine programme, the largest in the history of the NHS, with unrivalled speed and precision saving countless lives.

“This service is an opportunity for the whole country to reflect on the toll the virus has taken since the start of the pandemic and give thanks to the countless nurses, doctors, therapists, paramedics and other NHS staff, other key workers, volunteers and everyone else including members of the public who played their part”.

Local GP Dr Sarah Zaidi, said:

“I am most honoured and humbled to be invited to this service. It was the hard work and dedication of every single front- line worker across all our health and care sectors, during unprecedented times that should be recognised. I feel proud to be part of something where literally every person in every part of the NHS health and care system, at every level, pulled together and played their part in fighting this pandemic. I know my dear Dad, who was dedicated to his community and the NHS for 50 years, would have done and felt the same as I do”.

Dr Smitesh Patel, GP and vaccination lead in Benfleet, said:

“The past 18 months have been a hugely testing time. NHS staff, supported by volunteers and many others, have done a phenomenal job of vaccinating people, starting with those most at risk. The best token of people’s appreciation for the service would be to get a jab if you have not already done so – to protect yourself, your family and your friends”.

As part of activities to mark the day, Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership are encouraging everyone to take a moment to say thank you to those who have worked so hard or who have helped out over the last 12 months.

A variety of e-cards and message templates are available at #MSEBigThankYou Campaign – Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership (