BBC Breakfast host asks if Hancock’s NHS tribute was ‘insensitive’
The service will be honored today, its 73rd anniversary, with Britain’s highest civilian medal. But the news sparked calls for the new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, to reward our Covid heroes with a fair pay increase of “at least five percent.” In a handwritten tribute, the monarch praised NHS employees for their response to the pandemic. The Queen wrote: “It is with great pleasure, on behalf of a grateful nation, that I award the George Cross to the UK’s National Health Services.
“This award recognizes all NHS personnel, past and present, in all disciplines and in all four nations.
“For more than seven decades, and especially in recent times, they have supported the people of our country with courage, compassion and dedication, demonstrating the highest standards of public service.
“You have our lasting thanks and our sincerest appreciation.”
The move comes three months after the Daily Express launched a campaign to give collective honor to healthcare workers after the biggest crisis in NHS history. Welcoming the “unprecedented” George Cross, then Sir Simon Stevens, executive director of NHS England, said the demands of the pandemic had brought out “the best” in care staff.
But there were also demands that the government follow through on the joint medal with a salary increase of more than the one percent suggested.
His Majesty has awarded the George Cross to the entire NHS (Image: Steve Parsons)
Sara Gorton, head of health for the Unison union, said: “The NHS really deserves this prestigious award. The health service and its staff have made extraordinary efforts during the last 73 years, no more than in the last 16 months.
“But this is not enough. Ministers must now honor staff by giving the NHS the resources to address the Covid backlog, starting with a decent pay raise for all.
Dr John Puntis, Co-Chair of the Keep Our NHS Public Campaign Group, said: “The recognition of the ‘obvious courage’ displayed by NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic is welcome, but does not detract from the need to show appreciation. in a much more concrete way.
“After a decade of austerity, the average purchasing power of NHS workers has dropped by eight percent.
“The one percent pay offer is frankly an insult and doesn’t even come close to what is needed. The NHS staff deserve much more ”.
He added: “The applause doesn’t pay the bills or the honors, no matter how well-intentioned.”
Professor Kailash Chand, Honorary Vice President of the British Medical Association, said: “We owe a huge debt of thanks to those who work in the NHS.”
The NHS will be honored with Britain’s highest civilian medal (Image:.)
He urged ministers to reward them, as the Queen had done: “I beg the Prime Minister to grant [the] NHS workforce in England with at least a five per cent pay increase ‘.
Professor Chand, 70, added: ‘Any award or applause in the absence of a pay increase is considered an empty gesture and will seriously affect recruitment and retention when more than ever we need the NHS workforce to deal with a backlog. massive ”.
George Cross is the highest civil honor for gallantry.
It was instituted on September 24, 1940 by the queen’s father, George VI, and is awarded for bravery, not in the presence of an enemy.
Today’s award is only the third time it has been awarded to an organization, collective body or a country rather than an individual.
In 1942, it was conferred on the island of Malta by George VI, recognizing the bravery of the population during the attacks of World War II.
In 1999, the Queen awarded the George Cross to the Royal Ulster Police for the heroic service of staff and families.
The monarch praised NHS employees for their response to the pandemic (Image:.)
The most recent recipient is Dominic Troulan, a retired British Army officer and former Royal Marine. He received the medal on June 16, 2017, for his bravery during a 2013 terrorist attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
In welcoming today’s honor, NHS chief Sir Simon paid tribute to all those who played their part in the ‘greatest challenge this country has faced since World War II. This unprecedented award rightly recognizes the skill, compassion and strength of staff across the country. ” Health Service.
“The nurses, the paramedics, the doctors, the cleaners, the therapists, all the equipment that under the most demanding circumstances have responded 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 healthcare professional.
“We have seen extraordinary teamwork, not only across the NHS, but also involving hundreds of thousands of volunteers, millions of caregivers, key workers and the British public who have played an indispensable role in helping the health service. to care for many hundreds of thousands of people. seriously ill patients with coronavirus.
The news prompted calls for Sajid Javid to reward NHS staff with an increase of ‘at least five percent’ (Image:.)
“As we congratulate the entire health service staff on this award, we recognize that completing the NHS Covid vaccination program, which is in the final stages, is now the safest way out of this pandemic.”
Pat Cullen, Acting Secretary General and Executive Director of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Nursing staff led the founding of the NHS and continue to lead the response to the pandemic today.
“Together with all your colleagues, you should hold your head up today to be recognized in this way.”
The virus outbreak has killed around 151,000 people in the UK, including at least 230 front-line healthcare workers. The award came after the country’s first national Thanksgiving, which included the lighting of landmarks honoring NHS staff.
The idea came from a grassroots campaign to hold the largest community party in history to thank each other and build on the community spirit that many felt during the confinement.
The campaign garnered support from hundreds of groups, including the NHS and Scouts, and from high-profile individuals, including television host Gary Lineker, actors Michael Sheen and Dame Judi Dench, and footballer Raheem Sterling.