In a personal, handwritten message, the Queen issues the award on the 73rd anniversary of the NHS’s foundation.
Being given to the service in all four corners of the UK, the award is made on the advice of the George Cross Committee and the Prime Minister.
In her message, on Windsor Castle-headed paper, the Queen wrote: “It is with great pleasure, on behalf of a grateful nation, that I award the George Cross to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom.
“This award recognises all NHS staff, past and present, across all disciplines and all four nations.
“Collectively, over more than seven decades, they have supported the people of our country with courage, compassion and dedication, demonstrating the highest standards of public service.
“You have the enduring thanks and heartfelt appreciation of us all.”
Details of the presentation of the award will be confirmed at a later date.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens welcomed the award and praised the vaccination programme for providing a “sense of hope”.
He said: “This unprecedented award rightly recognises the skill and compassion and the fortitude of staff right across the National Health Service – the nurses, the paramedics, the doctors, the cleaners, the therapists, the entire team – who under the most demanding of circumstances have responded to the worst pandemic in a century and the greatest challenge this country has faced since the Second World War.
“Out of those dark times have come the best of what it means to be a carer and a health professional.
“In the face of adversity we have seen extraordinary team work, not just across the NHS but involving hundreds of thousands of volunteers, millions of carers, key workers and the British public who have played an indispensable role in helping the health service to look after many hundreds of thousands of seriously ill patients with coronavirus.
“And so, as we congratulate staff across the health service on this award, we recognise that completing the NHS Covid vaccination programme which is in the final stages is now the surest way out of this pandemic and provides a sense of hope.”