Posted on: 6 July 2023

Sue Pritchard, Designated Nurse for Camden’s Children Looked After Team attended the NHS 75 anniversary service at Westminster Abbey.

Sue and Peggy (pictured) trained together as State Registered Nurses 45 years ago and they were honoured and thrilled to attend.

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Sue writes:

The George Cross, presented to the NHS in 2022 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was processed up to the High Altar by May Parsons, the nurse who administered the world’s first Covid vaccination – a reminder of the huge battle we have all recently faced.

Working at the “coal face” in health it's easy to forget the wonder of the bigger picture of our National Health Service – “Health for all and free at the point of delivery”.

Sometimes it is good to step back and appreciate the visionary inspiration that Aneurin Nye Bevan launched on 5 July 1948, particularly in the light of the sacrifices and loss experienced during the Covid pandemic. This was that opportunity.

The Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle MBE, Dean of Westminster talked of “the radical conviction that we must care for one another, the NHS sets before us all the better angels of our nature. Here is high principle translated into best practice.”

There were testimonies from Dame Elizabeth Anionwu OM, the UK’s first sickle cell nurse and Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive from NHS Charities Together.

There was also a testimony from Dr Martin English and Dr Michael Griksaitis, consultant paediatricians who brought together - along with volunteer NHS Drs and Nurses - a rescue operation of the Ukrainian children suffering from cancer at the start of the war alongside their traumatised families, to begin the continuation of their treatment pathways in the UK.

The NHS has provided Peggy and I with completely different career experiences over the years, but we were both proud and inspired to be part of the celebration, attended by the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, The Right Honourable Rishi Sunak (whose father was a GP and mother ran a Pharmacy – who knew?) and The Right Honourable Sir Keir Starmer, alongside Amanda Pritchard (no relation!) Chief Executive of NHS England, other health innovators and politicians.