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Queen praised for ‘unwavering support’ of NHS

The Queen presenting the George Cross to Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, right, and May Parsons, Modern Matron at University Hospital Coventry and Warkwickshire, representatives of the National Health Service (Aaron Chown/PA)
The Queen presenting the George Cross to Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, right, and May Parsons, Modern Matron at University Hospital Coventry and Warkwickshire, representatives of the National Health Service (Aaron Chown/PA)

The head of the NHS in England has led tributes to the Queen from across the health sector.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the health service in England, praised the Queen’s “decades of dedication and service, and unwavering support of the NHS”.

The Queen awarded the NHS the George Cross at a ceremony in Windsor Castle in July.

“I know I speak on behalf of the whole NHS when I say how incredibly saddened we are by the news Her Majesty The Queen has passed away,” she said.

“The Queen dedicated her life to public service and it was our proudest moment when she awarded NHS staff the George Cross earlier this year, for their compassion and courage over the last 74 years but particularly during the pandemic.”

Ms Pritchard added on Twitter: “We remember her decades of dedication and service, and unwavering support of the NHS. On behalf of colleagues across the NHS, I send my heartfelt condolences to the royal family.”

Leading nurses also paid tribute to the Queen, who was a patron of the Royal College of Nursing.

Pat Cullen, chief executive and general secretary of the college, said: “We are deeply saddened by the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

“She was a dedicated patron of the Royal College of Nursing with a long connection to the nursing community.

“The Queen visited many nursing staff during her reign and will be fondly remembered by those who had the chance to meet and share their experiences with her.

“Our thoughts are with Her Majesty’s family during this difficult time. She will be missed by nursing staff across the UK.”

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said the Queen had brought “joy” to NHS staff fortunate enough to meet her.

College president, Sir Andrew Goddard, said: “This is a time of great sadness for the RCP and our members all over the world.

“We have been honoured to have Her Majesty The Queen as our visitor for more than 70 years.

“Many of our members’ work in hospitals the Queen visited during her long reign, some of which bear her name, and they will no doubt reflect on the interest she showed in their work, the support she gave to our NHS and the joy she brought to those colleagues and patients fortunate enough to meet her.

“She was much loved by many in the RCP and will be greatly missed.”

Interim chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, added: “Trust leaders will be deeply saddened to hear the news that Her Majesty The Queen has passed away.

“Over her 70-year reign, Her Majesty developed a close and special relationship with the NHS, most recently awarding the service with the George Cross for its courage, compassion and dedication of staff during the Covid-19 pandemic and its service to the public.”

Stuart Shilson, the Prior of the Priory of England and the Islands of the Order of St John, said: “The Priory of England and the Islands of the Order of St John and all volunteers and staff at St John Ambulance are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Her Majesty the Queen today.

“Her Majesty became Sovereign Head of the Order of St John upon her accession in 1952 and has been a great supporter of our work.

“Our thoughts are with the royal family at this time.

“Details of the funeral and the major activities leading up to it, are expected to be made to the nation, and indeed around the world, in the near future.

“I am humbled that St John has the honour and privilege of providing first aid services throughout this significant event and will also be represented at the funeral ceremony. More information about this will be available shortly.”