Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive, and May Parsons, the nurse who delivered the world’s first COVID-19 vaccination outside a clinical trial, received the George Cross on Tuesday on behalf of 1.5 million NHS colleagues in England.
Amanda and May were joined by the chief executives of the NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as colleagues representing the NHS front line.
The award was presented at Windsor Castle by Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
The George Cross is the highest civilian award for gallantry and was awarded in recognition of the incredible dedication, courage, compassion and skill shown by NHS staff over more than seven decades, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive said: “I see these incredible qualities put into action by NHS colleagues every day, not least by caring for more than three quarters of a million patients with COVID-19, rolling out the biggest and most successful vaccination programme in our history and delivering the most ambitious catch up programme to tackle the backlogs that have inevitably built up.
“It is an enormous honour to accept this award on behalf of all NHS staff, both those doing such great work today and those who have contributed to the service over the last 74 years.”
Joe Chadwick-Bell, Chief Executive, said: “It was with great pride that I read that the George Cross was being awarded to the NHS. It is a privilege of my role that I get to see our healthcare workers deliver the high standard of patient care we are all so proud of first hand. This privilege has been amplified over the last two and half years as I’ve watched colleagues across our organisation rise to the many additional challenges that COVID has presented us with and continue to provide care with generosity, compassion and unwavering dedication. Congratulations to you all.”
This is only the third time the George Cross has been given to a collective body since its introduction in 1940, and it is granted in recognition of “acts of the greatest heroism or of the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger.”
We hope to soon award our staff with a further medal in recognition of their contributions during the pandemic. Delivery of these medals has been delayed due to issues with the supply chain, however our procurement teams are working to find a new supplier as soon as possible and a firm date for when we should expect to receive the medals will be announced shortly.