05 July 2023

Edward and Sophie to attend service to mark 75 years of the NHS

05 July 2023

Frontline NHS staff will rub shoulders with royalty in a special ceremony to mark the institution’s 75th anniversary.

A service will be held at Westminster Abbey in London to pay tribute to NHS staff and patients.

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh will be joined by 1,500 health service staff, politicians and other supporters of the NHS.

NHS England boss Amanda Pritchard will deliver an address to the congregation.Those present will be able to see the NHS’s George Cross, which the late Queen awarded to the health service for the work staff did during the Covid-19 pandemic and throughout its history.

In one of the last public engagements before her death last year, she bestowed the medal on the NHS at a ceremony at Windsor Castle.

Health service leaders from across the four nations attended the ceremony, with nurse May Parsons, who delivered the first Covid-19 vaccine outside of a clinical trial.

Ms Parsons will carry the medal into the Abbey in a procession which will also include Kyle Dean-Curtis, 17, St John Ambulance cadet of the year, who wants to work in the NHS, and Enid Richmond, 91, who was one of the first people to work in the NHS, as a member of the junior clerical staff.

There will be prayers and testimonies from high-profile health leaders including Health Secretary Steve Barclay, NHS England’s chief nurse Dame Ruth May, NHS England’s national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis and Ellie Orton, chief executive of NHS Charities Together.

Those who have shown bravery on the frontline have also been invited, including Richard Webb-Stevens, a paramedic who was first on the scene of the Westminster Bridge terror attack, and Dr Martin English and Dr Michael Griksaitis, NHS consultants who jointly led a team which brought 21 Ukrainian children with cancer from Poland to the UK in March 2022, following the Russian invasion.

Mr Barclay said: “As we mark this milestone, we can be so proud of everything the NHS has achieved over the last 75 years.

“From its foundation in the aftermath of the Second World War, to the world’s first test tube baby and administering the first Covid vaccine – the NHS is an institution that deserves its title as a national treasure.

“I want to thank all the staff who have ever worked in the NHS, from the doctors and nurses, caring for our loved ones, to the cleaners and porters keeping our hospitals in order, and our social care workers, paramedics, physiotherapists and many more who do an outstanding job, each and every day.”

Dame Ruth added: “The NHS has truly been built upon the millions of hardworking NHS staff and volunteers who have shaped its course over the last three quarters of a century, constantly innovating and adapting to the new challenges they have faced – most recently the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected all our lives – to care for generation after generation, and it will be a fantastic honour to celebrate our health service’s 75th birthday and thank each of those incredible staff and volunteers at Westminster Abbey.

“As well as the service, there are countless events and special moments over the next week which everyone can get involved with, whether it be local parkrun events or the lighting up of over 150 landmark sites across the country, with many opportunities to not only look back on all that the NHS has achieved but also to look ahead to what new opportunities and innovations we can grasp in our next 75 years.”

The day of celebration will see scores of buildings across the country, from Nottingham Castle to the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, and Liverpool’s Liver building, lit up in the NHS’s trademark blue.

A number of celebrities will join the celebrations, including award-winning actor Tom Hardy, who will read Zog And The Flying Doctors on CBeebies Bedtime Stories on the night of the birthday.

British artist Charlie Mackesy has created a special NHS75 illustration to be released on the anniversary, and a collectable 50p coin has been released by the Royal Mint.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge celebrated by welcoming a new surgical robot after a £1.5 million fundraising campaign by Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust.

The King and Queen toured the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh on Tuesday, with Camilla joking with patients that she is the same age as the NHS.

In Wales, health minister Eluned Morgan attended the naming of a Great Western Railway train after the founder of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan, at Newport Station.

The Northern Ireland Confederation for Health and Social Care is hosting an event at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, on Wednesday.

Park Run and Junior Park Run events across the UK at the weekend will also be dedicated to the service.

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