The actress Emilia Clarke has fronted a video showcasing the professionalism of nursing staff working during the coronavirus pandemic in a tribute to mark International Nurses Day.
In the video, Clarke recites a poem called "These are the Hands", written by the former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen in 2008 for the 60th anniversary of the National Health Service in the UK.
Its release by the Royal College of Nursing on May 12 also coincides with the bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
It was this 200th-birthday milestone that prompted the World Health Organisation to dedicate 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife to recognise the critical contribution both professions make to global health.
That decision made in May last year has taken on far greater significance than the WHO might have envisaged before Covid-19 swept around the globe, putting healthcare workers on the “frontline” of the fight against the devastating consequences of the pandemic. Nurses and other medical staff have been repeatedly hailed as heroes throughout the coronavirus crisis.
In the footage, the star who is best known for her role as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, does a reading of the poem by Rosen that closes with the words: "And these are the hands/That stop the leaks/Empty the pan/Wipe the pipes/Carry the can/Clamp the veins/Make the cast/Log the dose/And touch us last."
When she signs off, Clarke simply says: “As a proud RCN ambassador, thank you to all nursing staff. Happy International Nurses Day.”
She has previously vowed to be a champion for nursing staff, who she once described as “overlooked, under-appreciated and under-paid”.
Her own experiences as a critically ill patient have perhaps given Clarke a greater awareness than most of their vital work. In 2011, she was struck down with the first of two life-threatening brain haemorrhages that forced her to undergo surgery during the first few seasons of Game of Thrones.
The nursing she received on the long road to recovery led her to found SameYou, a charity dedicated to helping people living with brain injuries access ongoing rehabilitative care in countries where it is limited or unavailable.
The SameYou website features a banner that says: “Superheroes save the day. Supernurses save every day.”
On Monday evening, Clarke, 33, posted another video in which she reveals her own supernurse, named only as "Tina", who works at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, in London. It was Tina who helped the actress through her first haemorrhage and the years that followed.
As Clarke goes on to explain, Tina dealt with her fears with the patience of a saint - everything from ‘‘I’ve got a funny headache” and “I feel really sick” to "My hand is swollen because of where the drip was”. The nurse, she said, knew that what might seem insignificant in other circumstances could take on scary proportions for those recovering from a brain injury.
“She was remarkable in that sense,” Clarke said. “I would call her, quite a lot if I’m really honest, with all of my worries and all of my fears, and Tina was there for years afterwards… which is why she is my supernurse.
"Now the problem is that we don’t have enough Tinas," she added. "Tina has a huge number of patients that she’s looking out for, a remarkable amount of people that she is making sure knows and feels that they are her only patient, which is how she made me feel. So my shout out, my supernurse, is Tina.
“I just want to say thank you to Tina, and thank you to all nurses for the incredible job that you do, especially on May 12 when we get to celebrate you guys.”
Clarke ended the video message with an appeal for people to make contact to tell her about their own supernurses so that they could all be given the love that they deserve.