NHS birthday marked at Westminster Abbey service

Amanda Pritchard speaking at Westminster Abbey

On Wednesday (5 July), 2,200 NHS staff, volunteers and partners attended a service at Westminster Abbey to mark the NHS’s 75th birthday.

The event, which was attended by TRHs The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, started with a procession of the George Cross, which was presented to the NHS in 2022 by HM The Queen.

The Cross was carried by nurse May Parsons, who administered the world’s first COVID vaccine. May was joined by Kyle Dean-Curtis, 17, St John Ambulance cadet of the year, and Enid Richmond, 91, who worked for the NHS at the time it launched.

The guests, most of whom were nominated by local NHS bodies, heard from a range of speakers:

  • Dame Elizabeth Anionwu OM, UK’s first Sickle Cell Nurse, academic and author
  • Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive, NHS Charities Together
  • Sir Keir Starmer KCB KC MP, Leader of the Opposition
  • Rishi Sunak MP, Prime Minister
  • Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive, NHS England
  • Dr Martin English, Consultant Paediatric Oncologist (retired), Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Michael Griksaitis, Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (who jointly led a team of NHS staff who extracted Ukrainian children with cancer to the UK from Poland).

Prayers were read by a number of NHS representatives:

  • Steve Barclay MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
  • Dame Ruth May DBE, Chief Nursing Officer for England
  • Professor Sir Stephen Powis, National Medical Director, NHS England
  • Professor Suzanne Rastrick OBE, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer for England
  • Richard Webb-Stevens, Paramedic, holder of the Queen’s Ambulance Medical for Distinguished Service and first on scene of Westminster Bridge terror attack.

There were also blessings by faith representatives:

  • Dr Amina Al-Yassin, representing the Muslim community
  • Mr Kirit Mistry, representing the Hindu community
  • Dr Manvir Kaur, representing the Sikh community.

You can download the full Order of Service and listen to the event on the Westminster Abbey website.

Dame Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: “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 was a fantastic honour to celebrate our health service’s 75th birthday and thank each of those incredible staff and volunteers at Westminster Abbey.”

NHS England is delighted to have worked in partnership with NHS Charities Together to deliver this celebration of 75 years of the NHS and its workforce.


Photo credit: Westminster Abbey/Picture Partnership