The George Cross will be presented to the Health Service in Northern Ireland at a service in Windsor Castle next week.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “The award of the George Cross to our health service is a truly fitting honour. Not only does it reflect the depth of our collective gratitude for the expert care and compassion that our health service has provided over the past 74 years. But it will also serve as a lasting reminder of the courage and selfless sense of duty that our staff demonstrated throughout the pandemic.
“There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic will be recorded in the history books, and in our own memories, as the most challenging period for our health service since its inception. It’s also clear that we are only where we are today because of the determination of every single person in our health service.
“So to everyone working across Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care system at all levels, you have my utmost admiration and sincerest gratitude. We will be forever indebted to you all.”
Department of Health Permanent Secretary Peter May and Sister Joanna Hogg who delivered the first vaccination in Northern Ireland will accept the award on behalf of the health service here.
Mr May said: “Today marks the 74th anniversary of the NHS and I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all members of our health and social care system in Northern Ireland. The award of the George Cross is well deserved recognition for the courage and sacrifice of everyone who works in health and social care.”
Peter May and Sister Joanna Hogg will attend the ceremony alongside the Chief Executives of the National Health Services of England, Scotland and Wales and members of the frontline.