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Gongs galore: phaleristic study of the relative risk of a healing art related New Year Honour


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.

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