Queen Elizabeth honors UK health service for work in pandemic


Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain visits the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute at the University of Edinburgh, as part of her traditional Scotland trip for Holyrood Week, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain on 1st July 2021. Jane Barlow / Pool via REUTERS

LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) – Queen Elizabeth awarded Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) the George Cross – the highest civilian honor for bravery – in recognition of 73 years of dedicated service, including during the COVID pandemic – 19.

The honor has only been awarded collectively twice before, and once by the Queen.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the award was a symbol of the nation’s gratitude.

“NHS staff have cared for us, our friends and family on the front lines of a pandemic for over a year, and I have witnessed their courage firsthand,” Johnson, who has been treated by the NHS in intensive care with COVID-19 last year, said.

“I know the whole of the UK is behind me in paying tribute and thanking for everything the NHS has done for us, not just last year but since its inception.”

The NHS was established in 1948 as a centerpiece of post-WWII social reforms, with the mission of providing comprehensive, state-funded universal health care.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said the honor recognizes the skills, compassion and courage of staff across the service to respond to the worst pandemic in a century.

“Out of those dark times has come the best of what it means to be a caregiver and a medical professional,” he said.

‘In the face of adversity we have witnessed extraordinary teamwork, not only across the NHS, but involving hundreds of thousands of volunteers, millions of caregivers, key workers and the British public who have played a indispensable role in helping health services take care of several hundred thousand critically ill patients with coronavirus. “

The George Cross was first awarded collectively to the people of Malta in 1942 by Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, and to the Royal Ulster Constabulary by the Queen in 1999.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Nick Macfie

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