Gongs for people tackling the Covid-19 pandemic will be a recurring theme in the New Year and Birthday Honours list for many years as the pandemic “evolves”, the Cabinet Office has said.
There were 231 people named in the New Year honours – 18.6% of the total – for their services to the coronavirus crisis.
Dame Barbara Monroe said that the true figure was likely to be much higher, as many of the nominations has been submitted before the start of the pandemic.
“We know that people who were already giving extraordinary services to their local communities are likely to have continued doing so during these last challenging months,” she said.
On the list were 123 health and social care workers, 10% of the whole list, chosen from a pool of many hundreds of nominations to the health committee.
“Those who are included are in many ways symbolic of the very best of the NHS and health and social care providers,” Dame Barbara said.
It builds on a trend set by the Birthday Honours, where 14% of the total were health and social care workers.
The Birthday Honours were delayed until October so that people fighting the pandemic could be considered.
“I think it is profoundly right that we recognise the efforts and resilience of so many key workers,” Dame Barbara said.
She added: “We can expect many more Covid-19 nominations to continue to come forward across future lists and from a wide range of sectors.”
Helen Ewen, head of Honours Secretariat, said the roles of those nominated in connection with the pandemic are likely to change as the crisis continues.
“The sectors and the nature of the contribution will obviously shift and change as the nature of the response itself evolves, and we will look to track and keep pace with that as we go along,” she said.
”Absolutely we now expect this to be part of our recognition in the lists for many lists to come.”
Ms Ewen urged the public to continue nominating frontline staff who would otherwise be overlooked, but she said those working on resilience and vaccination would also be recognised over time.
“There will be some elements, particularly around the scientific community, which come in a different timeframe from the more immediate frontline response,” she said.
Ms Ewen also said it was “disappointing” to see the names of some of those honoured leaked ahead of time, adding that the Cabinet Office is looking at ways to “tighten up” the security of the information.
“We work hard to keep this information confidential and we ask people to maintain that ahead of the release,” she said.
“We continue to look at how we can tighten this up but I don’t think there’s much more I can say on that right now.”
Dame Donna Kinnair, head of the Royal College of Nursing, congratulated all the nursing staff recognised for honours.
“And to the many more whose names aren’t on there, I am extremely proud of your dedication too,” she said.
Dame Donna added that all nursing staff across the country “should end the year with their heads held high for the dedication and professionalism they have shown” during the pandemic.