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Public urged to help the NHS ‘shine a light’ for our nurses

The public is being asked to ‘shine a light’ to mark International Nurses Day tomorrow (Tuesday 12 May) and recognise the extraordinary work that their colleagues are doing in the fight against coronavirus.

The day also marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, who founded modern nursing and pioneered infection control but is also famous for her lamp.

2020 has been made International Year of the Nurse to mark the bicentenary of Florence’s birth.

People are being urged to shine a light from their window at 8.30 pm tomorrow to mark the day and show their appreciation for all that nurses are doing to save and rebuild the lives of patients with coronavirus.

Tracy Williams, Queen’s Nurse and NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Governing Body member, said: “Right now our frontline nurses, working in hospitals, communities and GP practices alongside other professionals are committed to supporting the NHS during this challenging time, caring for patients with coronavirus and other illnesses in our hospices, in homes and care homes.

“International Nurses Day is a special time for us all to come together to celebrate and thank every nurse for their courage, care, compassion, and commitment. I hope this special day encourages even more nurses to join or return to what is a wonderful and rewarding career.

“As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, I encourage everyone to take a moment to show their gratitude and shine a light to nurses working tirelessly up and down the country.” 

Thousands of former nurses have returned to help the NHS during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and thousands more students have done their bit through choosing to take up extended clinical placements.

To mark International Nurses Day and Florence Nightingale’s bicentenary, an image of her and a message of thanks will be projected on to her place of work, St Thomas’s Hospital, from the Houses of Parliament. It will also be projected onto the British Embassy in Rome and the Italian Federation of Nurses between 9–11 pm.


Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: “International Day of the Nurse is particularly special this year not just because we mark the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, but because of the extraordinary work all those who have followed in her footsteps are doing in the fight against coronavirus.

“I want to thank each and every one of our incredible nurses who are on the frontline in the battle against the greatest health emergency in NHS history. Their professionalism and skills are helping to save and rebuild countless lives. It is a challenging but hugely rewarding career and I would urge anyone inspired by their example to sign up to join us and become a nurse.”

Nursing has changed dramatically since Florence Nightingale founded the first nursing school in London – nurses are not only on hospital wards, they are out in the community, care homes, academia, running hospitals and developing policy.

The modern nursing challenge is to deliver consistent and improving high-quality care and they are essential to meet the challenge of improving care, reducing inequalities, and using health and care resources wisely.

Nurses have never been more needed. If you’re interested in joining our team, find out more.

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