CNOs thank nurses in 2023-24 festive messages

The national chief nursing officers (CNOs) across the UK have paid tribute to the contributions of nurses and midwives during 2023, which they described as having been another challenging year for the professions.

In festive messages for Nursing Times, the CNOs for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales thanked nursing and midwifery staff for their continued hard work and recognised those working over the Christmas period.

Their messages also noted the fact that 2023 was a special year, marking 75 years of the NHS and the Northern Irish equivalent, Health and Social Care (HSC).

However, challenges faced by the professions included further strike action, a cost-of-living crisis, the ongoing impact of Covid-19, the Lucy Letby case and witnessing of international crises like the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, in his Christmas message, Scotland CNO Professor Alex McMahon confirmed his plans to retire in April 2024.


Ruth May

Dame Ruth May, England CNO

“As we look back on this year, I remain immensely proud of our nursing and midwifery professions and of the contribution made by every single nurse, midwife, nursing associate, support colleague and student.

“This year our professions, alongside others, have faced many challenges across the NHS, health and social care. Despite this, our nursing and midwifery professions continue to put patients and their families first. You have shown such dedication, professionalism and compassion, and I am so grateful for the difference you all make each and every day.

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“My thanks also go to our incredible volunteers who gave their time to support the NHS and social care this year. Every one of our volunteers has played a vital role and made a huge difference to patients and colleagues.

“As we look to 2024, I will be launching a new Chief Nursing Officer for England’s Strategic Vision for Nursing and Midwifery. This vision, for all nurses, midwives and nursing associates across all settings, sets out how, together, we will use our expertise, skills and unique position to support the health of our nation now and for the future.

“Finally, and as always, I want to give a special, heartfelt thank you to all of those working or volunteering over the festive period.”


Maria McIlgorm, Northern Ireland CNO

Maria McIlgorm

“This has been a momentous year for our health service, marking 75 years of a universal healthcare system that has provided the best possible care to some of the most vulnerable in our society. You continue to provide that standard of care, day in and day out.

“In conversations with nursing and midwifery colleagues, I am repeatedly struck by your dedication and professionalism. I’ve witnessed your commitment to the job, and the compassion you show to those under your care, despite the pressures the system faces.

“And I know those pressures feel relentless. But the foundations are strong.

“We have a workforce which we should be extremely proud of, with a wealth of innovative and dedicated individuals.

“I’m focused on addressing issues of concern to you, and continuing the ongoing work on building and retaining a sustainable workforce, improving wellbeing and working conditions.

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“Nurses and midwives are the backbone of our health system, and safety-critical to ensuring good outcomes for patients.

“As we look to 2024, I am confident that collectively we can address the challenges we face, and make Health and Social Care a great place to work.

“Thank you for all your work, and have a very happy and peaceful Christmas.”


Scotland chief nursing officer Alex McMahon

Alex McMahon

Professor Alex McMahon, Scotland CNO

“I want to say thank you to all of my nursing colleagues and those they work [with] across health and care in Scotland for all you do every day of the year.

“It’s been another challenging year but so many positives have also occurred.

“This year has seen the establishment of the ministerial nursing and midwifery taskforce. It has been a great privilege to work with all of our stakeholders in progressing the work of the taskforce. In particular, the work on attraction and retention, I hope, will deliver new opportunities for more people to want to be a nurse or a midwife.

“It has been a privilege being the CNO in Scotland but I retire from post in April next year. After 40 years in nursing and health it is with real pride that I say I am a nurse and I love nursing and what we do for and with patients and their families. I will watch with interest to see how the profession grows from strength to strength in the years to come.

“In the meantime, I wish you and your families a very merry Christmas and all the very best for 2024.”


Sue Tranka, Wales CNO

Sue Tranka

“As we head into Christmas and the new year, I want to express my sincere gratitude to all our nurses, midwives and healthcare colleagues working so very hard across NHS Wales.

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“Thank you for all the work you have done and continue to do to provide the best possible care for those in our communities that need our support.

“This is a busy time of year, and I know many of you will be working over the festive season.

“It’s important that you prioritise your own health and wellbeing and look out for one another. I hope whatever you are doing, you have the chance to recharge and spend some quality time with your loved ones, over the Christmas period.

“I’ve seen so much this year of your dedication, compassion and the unique contributions you make in supporting the people of Wales. Your critical thinking, your professional curiosity and innovative solutions are making a huge difference in these challenging times.

“Thank you for your dedication, your passion and commitment to the wellbeing of others which is nothing short of exceptional.

“I wish you and your families a very merry Christmas, cofion gorau, a blwyddyn newydd dda yn 2024.”

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