Sir Simon Stevens today hailed the “skill and compassion and the fortitude” of health service staff as the NHS was awarded the George Cross for 73 years dedicated service and the response to COVID by Her Majesty the Queen.
Welcoming the “unprecedented” honour, bestowed collectively for only the third time, Sir Simon said that the “dark times” of the coronavirus pandemic had brought out “the best” in health and care staff.
And the NHS chief paid tribute to all those in the NHS and beyond who had played their part in responding to the “greatest challenge this country has faced since the Second World War”.
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.
“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.
“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.”