Award comes on the 73rd anniversary of the NHS’s foundation and marks only the third occasion on which the George Cross has been awarded to a collective body, country or organisation, rather than an individual.
The Queen has awarded the George Cross to the NHS recognising all health service staff in all four nations of the UK. In a personal, handwritten message, the Queen said NHS staff have carried out their work “with courage, compassion and dedication” for more than 70 years.
In her message, on Windsor Castle-headed paper, the Queen wrote: “It is with great pleasure, on behalf of a grateful nation, that I award the George Cross to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom. This award recognises all NHS staff, past and present, across all disciplines and all four nations.
“Collectively, over more than seven decades, they have supported the people of our country with courage, compassion and dedication, demonstrating the highest standards of public service. You have the enduring thanks and heartfelt appreciation of us all.”
However, The Doctors’ Association said better pay and conditions would have been welcomed instead. A spokesperson for the lobbying and campaigning group told i: “This is a similar gesture to the Thursday night clapping, which acknowledges the part NHS staff have played in this pandemic. However what the NHS actually needs is not shiny medals, but appropriately paid staff, who feel able to go to work without fear of abuse, to work in an environment with adequate staffing and resources.”