Luís Pitarma – the Portuguese nurse hailed a hero here for his role in saving the life of British PM Boris Johnson – has been received in Downing Street in commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the National Health Service.
A delightful image of Pitarma, 29, and his colleague from New Zealand, Jenny McGee, was uploaded by Mr Johnson on Twitter over the weekend, with the words: “This evening I was honoured to host those who looked after me at St Thomas’ Hospital at Downing Street, as we celebrate 72 years of our incredible NHS”.
Readers may recall the moving video Boris Johnson shared back in April on his discharge from hospital after a very close shave with Covid-19 (click here).
In the clip he specifically named Luís and Jenny – thanking them both for making the interventions he needed when “things could have gone either way”.
A clearly ‘reluctant hero’, Pitarma has himself said very little about the episode – even despite receiving a congratulatory phone call from the President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
In the light of the UK’s failure to extend ‘free travel’ to Brits wanting to visit Portugal this summer, many social media commentators have alluded to this most recent and poignant ‘connection’ where a Portuguese has gone the extra mile for a Brit, but the effort hasn’t appeared to have been reciprocated.
It’s a slightly spurious comparison, but feelings in Portugal over the iniquity of the British government’s decision to block Britons from quarantine-free holidays are beyond smarting. The economic damage it has done, and will continue to do, is immeasurable.