Many NHS staff have said that they value the show of popular appreciation represented by the clapping on Thursday evenings, and it is certainly a simple way of demonstrating our collective thanks.

At the same time, it perhaps echoes those scenes in the Commons in 2017 when MPs clapped and cheered the narrow defeat of a bill which proposed to pay nurses a little more. And recently the Secretary of State said that now is not the time to consider a pay rise. He was quite right: it is much too late, but better late than never.

It is also disgraceful that NHS staff, including the least well paid, have to fall back on statutory sick pay, as reported in these pages, even if they are required to self-isolate because of exposure to Covid-19 at work. Another disgrace is that the requisite PPE is not available, and the regulations have had to be trimmed to match availability rather than need.

Non-EU staff from abroad endure the insult of paying in advance several hundred pounds per year for every member of their family against the possibility of needing NHS treatment that they themselves risk their lives to provide. At the least, this should be waived; I believe some NHS employers pay on behalf of their employees, as is only decent. Given the horrors that have afflicted thousands of legitimate British citizens who have been denied their rights of citizenship, a scandal that the Home Office has failed for years to resolve, we might consider that a minimum thanks for foreign NHS employees would be the granting of a straightforward British citizenship.

These would be gestures that would mean a bit more than a few minutes clapping. And we must ensure that in future we value properly a publicly-owned, publicly responsive NHS that values its employees with the respect and fairness that befits their value to all of us.

Barry Tempest

Dorchester