Queen Elisabeth II awarded the British public health service the NHS (National Health Service), severely tested by the Covid-19 pandemic and which is celebrating its 73 years this Monday, the George Cross, highest civilian honor in the United Kingdom. “This decoration rewards all NHS staff, past and present, in all disciplines and in the four nations” of the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – the Queen said in a statement. handwritten message.
“Collectively, for more than seven decades, they have supported the people of our country with courage, compassion and dedication, demonstrating the high level of public service,” she added. Established in 1940, the George Cross rewards heroism and acts of courage in circumstances of extreme danger.
“Countless lives” saved
At the height of the pandemic this winter, the NHS found itself on the verge of rupture, in one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, with 128,000 dead. Thanks to the “dedication” and “duty” of its staff, the NHS “has saved countless lives and the George Cross is the symbol of the nation’s gratitude,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. He himself was seriously affected by the coronavirus and hospitalized in intensive care in the spring of 2020.
His government has been sharply criticized, especially by the Labor opposition, for limiting the salary increase for NHS staff to 1%. Despite the Delta variant now dominant in the country and calls for caution, the government has chosen to let the spread of the virus slip, arguing that the mass vaccination campaign keeps hospitalizations and deaths at a very low level.
Nearly 30,000 cases are recorded daily. Boris Johnson is due to give a press conference on Monday about the lifting of most of the last restrictions scheduled for July 19 in England.