NHS England has paused communications and doctor leaders paid tribute following the death of the Queen yesterday afternoon.
A letter from NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said NHS England would pause ‘most proactive communications’ immediately, until after the state funeral has taken place.
Tributes were also paid by doctor leaders from around the UK.
NHS England said that ‘operational communications that are required to keep NHS services running normally’, such as some ‘limited’ publications, website updates and bulletins, will be exempt from this.
The pause will also not apply to patient communications at national, local or individual level, including communications between the NHS and patients about service provision, access or to encourage uptake for instance of the Covid vaccine, it added.
Exemptions ‘will be agreed on a case-by-case basis’, it said.
The letter also set out that NHS England’s internal communications activities will also be paused, including all-staff briefings and both in-person or virtual ‘events of any kind’.
The ‘formal communications approach’ is led by the Cabinet Office and the Royal Household to ‘enable us as a nation to remember the Queen’s life and service’, it said.
Ms Pritchard said: ‘I know I speak on behalf of the whole NHS when I say how incredibly saddened we are by the news Her Majesty the Queen has passed away.
‘The Queen dedicated her life to public service and it was our proudest moment when she awarded NHS staff the George Cross earlier this year, for their compassion and courage over the last 74 years but particularly during the pandemic.’
She added that her ‘heartfelt condolences are with the Royal Family at this time’.
Responding to the news that the Queen has died aged 96, after 70 years of service as monarch, BMA council chair Professor Philip Banfield said: ‘The BMA offers its deepest and most sincere condolences to the Royal Family on the death of Her Majesty the Queen.
‘Many will not have known life without Her Majesty as our Head of State and during her 70-year reign she was a dedicated public servant and much-respected figure.’
He added: ‘During her stewardship of her nation, there has been substantial social and political change around the world. Her role in this will never be forgotten.’
RCGP president Professor Dame Clare Gerada said: ‘We are very sorry to hear of the death of Her Majesty the Queen and send our deepest condolences to King Charles and the Royal Family.
‘The Queen dedicated her life to public service, and she has been the one constant in all our lives. As a GP from the Commonwealth, I, like many others, saw her as our figurehead and we will never forget her.’
Professor Gerada was awarded a damehood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2020.
And MDDUS chair Professor Iain Cameron said: ‘On behalf of MDDUS, I wish to record our gratitude for Her Majesty’s unstinting contribution to public life.
‘Throughout her reign, she acknowledged the tireless work of the NHS in caring for the nation. Indeed, only last year the Queen awarded the NHS the George Cross and said it was an award for staff “past and present, across all disciplines and all four nations”.’
He added: ‘We are deeply saddened to learn of her passing and join with the nation in paying our respects.’
As previously published on our sister title Pulse
Photograph taken by Julian Calder for Governor-General of New Zealand