The Queenhas awarded the George Cross to the NHS for seven decades of public service including battling coronavirus as she praised the ‘courage, compassion and dedication’ shown by staff and said the organisation had the ‘enduring thanks’ of a ‘grateful nation’.
In a personal handwritten message on Windsor Castle-headed paper, Her Majesty highlighted the bravery exhibited by frontline workers during the pandemic and said Britain’s highest civilian gallantry medal would recognise ‘all NHS staff, past and present’.
She 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. You have our enduring thanks and heartfelt appreciation.’
The award of the George Cross by The Queen is made on the advice of the George Cross Committee and the Prime Minister. Details of the presentation of the award will be confirmed at a later date.
It is not yet clear if all NHS staff will be sent a copy of Her Majesty’s rare handwritten letter – but they will not get to use ‘GC’ after their names, because the award is to the NHS as an organisation, not individuals.
The George Cross 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’.
NHS staff, many on the frontline, have risked their lives to treat Covid patients. Hundreds have died from the virus and many more are suffering long-term effects. NHS workers have also helped to administer 79million jabs and have treated 405,000 seriously ill Covid hospital patients in England alone, often in swelteringly hot PPE.
The strain has left many mentally and physically drained.
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