The NHS in Wales has been honoured with The George Cross in recognition of the incredible effort of all those working in the NHS during the pandemic.
The award, which is rarely given to organisations, recognises extraordinary acts of bravery in trying to save the lives of other people.
The award, which comes as the NHS marks its 73rd birthday today (July 5) represents the work of the NHS not just over the last few extremely challenging months, but every day since its creation in 1948.
The George Cross Committee recently provided advice to the Prime Minister that the NHS should be recognised in this way and, after discussions with the respective First Ministers, it was decided that each of the four home nations should be awarded separate George Cross medals.
The George Cross is usually presented by a senior Royal at an investiture and arrangements will be made by the Palace in due course.
Aneurin Bevan, the Ebbw Vale MP who was instrumental in forming the NHS, once said ‘The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with faith to fight for it’, and current Health Minister Eluned Morgan said he would have been proud to see how it has performed over the last 18 months – decades after his dream became a reality.
“This award is not just to recognise those who work in the service today, but those who have worked in this loved institution over all the years since it was established,” she said
“It is hard to put into words how grateful we are to the NHS in Wales for everything they have done throughout the pandemic, going above and beyond the call of duty to treat, care and support us.
“This award is just a small token of our appreciation for the heroic service they have given and how indebted we are to their work.
“We know the pandemic is not over yet and we still have many challenges to come, but if we have learnt anything over the last 18 months, it is the strength of character, resolve and determination of our NHS is unquestionable and we are incredibly lucky to have such a health service.”
Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales, echoed the Health Minister’s praise and commended all those who have given so much during the pandemic.
“NHS workers across Wales have shown strength, passion, professionalism and dedication throughout one of the biggest challenges of our lifetime,” he said.
“They have been there for us and for our loved ones when nobody else could be there, and have shouldered enormous physical and emotional demands.
“Throughout the recent dark times we have shown our appreciation for their work through doorstep clapping and rainbows in windows, and I hope the legacy of the pandemic will be to treasure the NHS and its staff just that bit more in future.
“While the award today is a fitting tribute to NHS staff, I know that those working in the NHS would like to join me in also recognising the contribution of all those working in partnership with the NHS.
“This includes colleagues in social care, keyworkers and volunteers who have stepped in when needed and not least the public who have made many sacrifices along the way. The response has been a truly collective one.”