The George Cross is the country’s highest award for gallantry and heroism (Picture: PA/Getty)The Queen has awarded the UK’s highest accolade for heroism to NHS workers to mark more than 70 years of public service as she praised their efforts during the pandemic.
In a personal handwritten note, Her Majesty awarded the George Cross to all staff who have carried out their work ‘with courage, compassion and dedication’.
The NHS today marks its 73rd birthday as it continues to work through a mammoth backlog amid staff shortages, following more than a year of unprecedented challenges and disruption due to the pandemic.
It is only the third time in history that the George Cross has been awarded to a collective body, country or organisation instead of an individual.
The award was instituted by King George VI on September 24 1940 during the height of the Blitz, and is granted in recognition of ‘acts of the greatest heroism or of the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger’.
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.
‘Over more than seven decades, and especially in recent times, you have supported the people of our country with courage, compassion and dedication, demonstrating the highest standards of public service.
The Queen wrote a note on Windsor Castle headed paper to all NHS staff (Picture: PA)
The Queen thanked healthcare workers for their ‘courage, compassion and dedication’ (Picture: Getty)‘You have our enduring thanks and heartfelt appreciation.’
British Medical Association council chair Dr Chaand Napaul said it was ‘only right’ that NHS staff are recognised ‘for their brave and dedicated commitment.’
He said: ‘This is a worthy honour for all NHS staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to protect the health of the nation, providing care to hundreds of thousands suffering with illness and have also saved the lives of so many.
‘The fight against Covid has been largely down to their enormous contribution, and with many putting their own health at risk as they cared of patients with a deadly and infectious illness, and with sadly several hundred losing their lives from the virus.’
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