Queen awards George Cross to NHS to honour staff's 'courage'

5 July 2021, 07:03

The Queen has awarded the George Cross to the National Health Services of the UK, recognising all NHS staff in all four nations
The Queen has awarded the George Cross to the National Health Services of the UK, recognising all NHS staff in all four nations. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The Queen has awarded the George Cross to the National Health Services of the UK, recognising all NHS staff in all four nations.

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.

The award comes on the 73rd anniversary of the NHS's foundation.

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".

Read more: PM expected to to scrap social distancing as he lays out life after lockdown

The award of the George Cross by The Queen is made on the advice of the George Cross Committee and the Prime Minister.

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.

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
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. Picture: PA

"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."

Details of the presentation of the award will be confirmed at a later date.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: "This unprecedented award rightly recognises the skill and compassion and the fortitude of staff right across the National Health Service - the nurses, the paramedics, the doctors, the cleaners, the therapists, the entire team - who under the most demanding of circumstances have responded to the worst pandemic in a century and the greatest challenge this country has faced since the Second World War.

Read more: Govt wants to replace Covid laws with 'personal responsibility' after 19 July

Read more: Calls for some rules to stay but double-jabbed will 'no longer need to isolate'

"Out of those dark times have come the best of what it means to be a carer and a health professional.

"In the face of adversity we have seen extraordinary team work, not just across the NHS but involving hundreds of thousands of volunteers, millions of carers, key workers and the British public who have played an indispensable role in helping the health service to look after many hundreds of thousands of seriously ill patients with coronavirus.

Camilla Tominey looks ahead to July 19 unlocking

"And so, as we congratulate staff across the health service on this award, we recognise that completing the NHS Covid vaccination programme which is in the final stages is now the surest way out of this pandemic and provides a sense of hope."

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said: "This is well-deserved recognition for the commitment, compassion and expertise of generations of health service staff working in a wide range of roles towards one defining purpose - caring for patients.

"So much has changed over the decades in terms of diagnosis, treatment and support, ways of working, and the health challenges we face, now and in the future.

"But that public service ethos, so present and powerful during the pandemic, will continue to stand the NHS in good stead, embodying much of what is best about our society and a true cause for celebration."

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Napaul 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.

"It is only right that they should be recognised for their brave and dedicated commitment."

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Those working in the NHS have done an incredible job caring for so many during this awful pandemic.

"The George Cross is the highest possible honour a civilian can achieve and I want to pay tribute to everyone across the NHS for their heroism and sacrifice."

The most recent recipient of the George Cross is Dominic Troulan, a retired British Army officer and former Royal Marine.

Mr Troulan was awarded the George Cross on June 16 2017 for his actions during the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya.

This marks only the third occasion on which the George Cross, which may be awarded posthumously, has been awarded to a collective body, country or organisation, rather than an individual.

In 1942, the George Cross was conferred on Malta by George VI, in recognition of the fortitude displayed by the island's inhabitants during enemy bombardments in the Second World War.

And in 1999, the Queen awarded the George Cross to the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland, in recognition of the force's bravery, including the families of those serving.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Donald Trump has been rushed off stage at a rally in Pennsylvania with blood streaming down his face after gunshots were heard at the event.

One killed and shooter dead after gunman fires at Donald Trump during rally leaving former president bloodied

American XL bully

Police raid suspected XL Bully farm and arrest man as 13 dogs seized inside house with children

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer has told the England team that they have "made the country proud" before their crunch Euros final against Spain on Sunday.

'Bring it home': Keir Starmer sends message to England team ahead of showpiece Euros final against Spain

spanhoe airfield near corby main runway

Pilot killed in plane crash at former RAF airfield near Corby as police urge witnesses to come forward

A child is dead and five people have been injured after a house fire in East Ham, London.

Child dead after deadly blaze that injured five which gutted east London home and needed 40 firefighters to tackle

Daniel Halliday went missing while playing in the water with his brother on June 30.

Body found in the sea confirmed to be 14-year-old Daniel Halliday who was swept away in River Mersey on June 30

A Scottish council has come under fire for handing almost 2,000 penalties in the first 11 days of its low emission zone

Scottish council under fire after handing out 2,000 fines in first 11 days of new low emission zone

Graziano Di Prima has broken his silence

Strictly Come Dancing pro Graziano Di Prima breaks silence after being 'sacked' following misconduct claims

Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer Graziano Di Prima has been sacked by the BBC

Strictly Come Dancing pro 'sacked' after claims of gross misconduct towards former partner Zara McDermott

Prince William will be at the game on Sunday

‘Just one last push’: Prince William’s message to the England team ahead of Euro 2024 final against Spain

The family of the three women who were killed in a crossbow attack have said they are "devastated"

‘We are devastated’, John Hunt and surviving daughter say, after his wife and two daughters killed in crossbow attack

At least 71 Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli air strike

‘Dozens killed in air strike on Gaza humanitarian zone’ as Israel says it was targeting Hamas leaders

The Princess of Wales is set to attend the Wimbledon Men's final

Princess of Wales to attend Wimbledon men's singles final in second public appearance since cancer diagnosis

Comedian John Bishop has divided fans after announcing he will be changing the time of his gig on Sunday

Wireless Festival and Comedian John Bishop spark controversy after changing set times for England's Euro 2024 final

Joe Biden has insisted he is staying in the race

Democrat donors ‘withhold $90m unless Biden stands down’ as Obama and Pelosi ‘oppose President’s re-election bid’

Two suitcases with human remains inside were found in Bristol

Armed police arrest man, 34, at train station following discovery of human remains in Bristol and west London