As most people tuck into their Christmas lunch, nurses and healthcare assistants across the UK will be treating patients with the same expertise and passion they show day in, day out.
In hospitals and communities, across all sectors, the dedication shown by those of you I meet never fails to leave an impression, and I’d like to celebrate the work you do.
Nursing teams have real power to shape the care we give our patients, and you should all be proud of the positive contribution you’ve made to the lives of those you care for.
For some of you, your friends and family may be far away and being away from them at this time of year can be difficult, but as anyone who’s worked a shift over Christmas knows, it can also be an uplifting experience.
As well as the camaraderie among staff, going the extra mile at this time of year is truly appreciated. Christmas can be one of those times that remind us why we became nurses in the first place – it is vital that we hold on to this.
The last few months have been challenging, but have also shown the profession at its best.
Our members, both in the independent sector and the NHS, rallied in support of our Scrap the Cap campaign, and thanks to them we secured a real victory, finally persuading the Government to look again at nurses’ pay.
But we know there is still a long way to go. The 1% pay cap may be scrapped but our campaigning won’t stop until nursing staff have received a meaningful pay award.
It is important that we do not lose the energy built up this summer while we await the new pay offer from the Government in spring 2018.
Next year too, we will be building on the work in Wales and, more recently in Scotland, calling for the introduction of UK-wide legislation to guarantee safe and effective staffing.
The impact staff shortages are having on the care you provide was laid bare in our safe staffing report, published in September.
This made it clear that the current situation is unsustainable, and next year it is up to us to persuade ministers to heed our warnings.
We know it is vitally important as patient safety, outcomes and experience depend on it.
For now though, whether you are working over Christmas or enjoying a well-earned break, make sure you take some time for yourself, your family and your loved ones.
Janet Davies is chief executive and general secretary, Royal College of Nusing