08th January 2020 Written by Dean Royles

Image: Dean Royles - The Real New Year's Honours.Dean Royles, strategic workforce advisor at Skills for Health and co-author of ‘An Introduction to Human Resource Management,’ discusses the need for more recognition of our honourable NHS support staff.

We all get a bit confused during the time between Christmas and New Year, I like to call ‘Twixmas’. Never knowing what day it is, or what we should be doing, not sure what’s on telly, or whether the bins need to go out. It soon passes. But for many it is a time of reflection, to look back on the year and to critically examine ourselves. To fondly remember the good times and to feel the hurt of the sad times. It can be cathartic, it can be challenging, it can hurt and it can spur us on to be better than we were, to be a better version of ourselves. For many, this will be the basis of new year’s resolutions and an understanding that we need the help of others if we want to succeed. Twixmas can be a good time, where we can feel both vulnerable and courageous.

Another strange thing that happens during this time, is the announcement of the New Year’s Honours List. I'm always surprised it is published just after Christmas and not in the new year, a bit of an Old Years Honours list! Views and opinions of the value of the honours system are hugely divided, from those that believe it is a valuable way to recognise public service, to those that think it is an antiquated system that should be consigned to the dustbin of history. Whatever your views, I know many will look at the list to see those from the NHS and social care that have been recognised, from mental health campaigners with a BEM, to Professors with a damehood. Many have worked long and hard and gone the extra mile, and recognition can be richly deserved.

I don't want to take away anything from those who have been recognised and received honours, but I am always struck by how few support staff get a mention. These are some of our most caring, most skilled, and most loyal NHS and social care staff. They work incredibly hard for relatively little financial reward and often go the extra mile every single day. They truly do deserve honours and recognition. It is not that those that receive honours are more worthy, it is often because many of those that receive honours are proposed by the professional bodies and associations of those that receive them. That sort of infrastructure just doesn’t exist for support staff, but we can all play our part.

We may not have the influence of professional bodies, but many reading this blog will have access to organisational resources and the ability to invest in the training and development of others. So, this New Year, add to your ‘Twixmas’ reflections and make a resolution to do all you can to promote, support, train, develop and recognise our support staff. It may not give them the letters after their name, but it will make a huge difference to them and the patients they serve.

Wishing everyone a very peaceful new year.

Skills for Health’s Our Health Heroes Awards is an annual celebration which recognises our healthcare support staff’s dedicated work across the UK. Watch the 2019 awards highlights here.


Dean always welcomes feedback. Please get in touch with him on Twitter @NHS_Dean, or email him directly: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.