Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Gongs galore: phaleristic study of the relative risk of a healing art related New Year Honour
  1. Katie Mellor1,
  2. Arfon GMT Powell1,2,
  3. Osian P James1,
  4. David B Robinson1,
  5. Luke Hopkins1,3,
  6. Richard John Egan3,4,
  7. Wyn G Lewis1
  1. 1 School of Surgery, NHS Wales Health Education and Improvement Wales, Nantgarw, UK
  2. 2 Division of Cancer and Genetics, Cardiff University School of Medicine, Cardiff, UK
  3. 3 Department of Surgery, Morriston Hospital, Swansea, UK
  4. 4 Medical School, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
  1. Correspondence to Katie Mellor, School of Surgery, NHS Wales Health Education and Improvement Wales, Nantgarw CF15 7QQ, Rhondda Cynon Taff, UK; kt.mellor{at}


Objectives To compare proportional representation of healthcare specialty workers, in receipt of New Year Honours (NYHs) and examine system bias.

Design Observational study of UK honours system including comparative analysis of proportional representation of the UK medical workforce.

Participants Recipients of NYHs from 2010 to 2019.

Main outcome measures Absolute risk of receiving an NYH, related to medical specialty, gender and geographical region. Relative risk (RR) of receiving an NYH for services to healthcare related to specialty.

Results 11 207 NYHs were bestowed, with 368 (3.3%) awarded to healthcare professionals: 212 (57.6%) women, 156 (42.4%) men. The RR of a healthcare professional receiving an NYH was 0.76 (95% CI 0.68 to 0.84, p<0.001) when compared with the remaining UK workforce. Doctors received most NYHs (n=181), with public health, clinical oncology and general medicine specialties most likely to be rewarded (RR 20.35 (95% CI 9.61 to 43.08, p<0.001), 8.43 (95% CI 2.70 to 26.30, p<0.001) and 8.22 (95% CI 6.22 to 10.86, p<0.001)), respectively; anaesthetists received fewest NYHs (RR 0.52 (95% CI 0.13 to 2.10), p=0.305). Men were more likely to receive NYHs than women (OR 0.44, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.54; p<0.001). Two hundred and fifty-four NYHs (69.0%) were bestowed on residents of England (60, 16.3% London), 49 (13.3%) Scotland (p=0.003), 39 (10.6%) Wales (p<0.001) and 26 (7.1%) Northern-Ireland (p<0.001).

Conclusions Relative risk of receiving an NYH varied over 150-fold by specialty, twofold by gender and threefold by geographical location. Public health physicians are perceived to be the pick of the parade.

  • general medicine (see internal medicine)

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

View Full Text


  • Twitter @PowArG07, @daverobinson90

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it first published. The provenance and peer review statement has been included.

  • Contributors WGL conceived and designed the study, oversaw the data analysis, refined the reporting of the work and is the guarantor of this work. KM collected the data, analysed the data and reported the work. AP contributed to data analysis and reporting of the work. OPJ, DBTR, LH and RJE contributed to reporting of the work. All authors approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.