THE Queen’s commendation was poignant and powerful.
Seven decades after the foundation of the NHS, all staff, past and present, have been awarded the George Cross for, as Her Majesty put it, their “courage, compassion and dedication”.
The honour is the highest civilian award for acts of ‘the greatest heroism’, or ‘the most conspicuous courage’ in ‘circumstances of extreme danger’.
And nowhere in the NHS’s history is this more appropriate than over the past 16 months.
There is much to be thankful for, as the vaccines bite, the treatments work and the pandemic wanes.
However, protecting the NHS in recent months, has come at a price for non-Covid patients.
The new health secretary, Sajid Javid, said that a staggering 7 million people with serious illnesses had failed to come forward during the pandemic.
Even here in Dorset, despite our successful vaccination programme, waiting lists are 15 per cent up, at a two-year high.
Mr Javid said the scale of the problem convinced him that he couldn’t just “be thinking about Covid alone”.
For every untreated patient, there is collateral damage, affecting millions of families.
Fuelled by constant alarms, the soaring numbers of mental health disorders are testament to the effects of long term fear and anxiety.
Children have missed months of vital schooling and socialisation through lockdown and through pointless, isolation measures, which are also affecting entire industries.
And, as I mentioned last week, the all-important relationship between patients and GPs has been ruptured in many cases.
The imminent easing of restrictions is to be welcomed and a return to normality in all walks of life, including the NHS, is vital.