This Christmas, while you’re tucking into that second helping of Christmas pudding or 15th helping of prosecco, just take a second to raise a glass to those who are spending their Christmas Day looking after others working for the NHS.
This Christmas, a huge number of people will choose to spend their day in the service of others. Without getting overly schmaltzy, isn’t that the true reason for the season?
The amount of people giving up their time over the festive period is staggering – over 400,000 to be precise. It is estimated that there will be 12,000 midwives around the UK working on the big day. They’re expected to help deliver 1,400 babies on Christmas Day.
On top of that, there will be 98,000 nurses, 55,000 nursing assistants, 12,000 members of ambulance staff, including paramedics.
It’s not just the medical professionals, either. The catering staff at hospitals the length and breadth of Britain will be serving 400,000 Christmas dinners to offer patients, staff and families the traditional festive fare, even if they’re not at home for it.
There will be 145,000 care workers and home carers tipping out to people’s houses as if it were any other day of the year.
Speaking in his annual Christmas message, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens thanked the hundreds of thousands of dedicated staff for their efforts, and for giving up this special time of year to help those who aren’t having the best time.
He said: “At the end of another busy year, on behalf of the whole NHS, I want to say thank you to all of our brilliant staff, particularly those who are working over the Christmas period.
“Hundreds of thousands of nurses, cooks, doctors, cleaners, porters, paramedics, midwives, countless others, sacrificing time with their own loved ones to take care of our patients and their families.”
In his speech, Stevens also appealed for more people to join the NHS arguing that 2020 – the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth – is the ideal to start an NHS career.
He said: “There’s never been a more exciting and important time to follow in her [Nightingale’s] footsteps.
“Those who are now signing up to a nursing degree over the next few weeks are going to get extra financial support when they start their courses in September and, to those who’ve taken time out from nursing or midwifery, now is a great time to think about re-joining the NHS in 2020.
“The NHS is central to so many of our communities across the country, whether it’s the local pharmacy, the GP surgery or the local hospital. But at the heart of all that we do, and what makes the NHS unique, is our people.”