A commemorative service held annually to mark the birth of Florence Nightingale and to celebrate nursing is being postponed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The ceremony organised by the Florence Nightingale Foundation was due to take place at Westminster Abbey on 12 May, which is also International Nurses’ Day.
“Our thoughts must be with nurses and midwives who are working on the frontline”
The service this year was expected to be particularly poignant because 2020 marks what would have been Florence’s 200th birthday and as such is designated International Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization.
However, the global outbreak of Covid-19 has forced the postponement or cancellation of events across all sectors, including key fixtures in the nursing calendar.
In an email to supporters, Professor Greta Westwood, chief executive of the foundation, said: “As I write this, I am hoping that all of you are safe and well and, as the situation around the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop day by day, our thoughts must be with nurses and midwives who are working on the frontline to care for people affected by Covid-19.
“We have therefore decided to postpone our annual Florence Nightingale Foundation Commemoration Service at Westminster Abbey 12th of May 2020.
“We know everyone greatly looks forward to the service and therefore we are working with the Abbey to confirm a new date.”
Professor Westwood said anyone who had applied for tickets or had been invited to the event would be advised of the date of the rearranged service as soon as it was confirmed.
On its website, the foundation describes the annual service as an “opportunity for us to not only commemorate Florence Nightingale on her birthday but also to celebrate all that is good about nursing and midwifery on International Nurses’ Day”.
The announcement comes after the Royal College of Nursing confirmed that it was cancelling its flagship annual conference to allow nurses to remain on the frontline of the pandemic.