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The public has been asked to “shine a light” on Tuesday to mark International Nurses Day, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale and to recognise their efforts to tackle coronavirus.
The request is in recognition of the World Health Organization having designated 2020 as International Year of the Nurse to mark the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.
“Their professionalism and skills are helping to save and rebuild countless lives”
Chief nursing officer for England Ruth May has joined other leaders in urging people to shine a light from their window at 8:30pm on Tuesday to mark the day and show their appreciation for nurses.
The call also comes from Professor Greta Westwood, chief executive of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, and Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
In addition, 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 parliament.
It will also be projected onto the British Embassy in Rome and the Italian Federation of Nurses between 9pm and 11pm.
Ms May 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,” she said. “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,” said the CNO.
“I know how much the public’s support has buoyed my colleagues during this testing time. It would mean a great deal if people once again showed their gratitude by shining a light for nurses this Tuesday.”
Professor Westwood, from the Florence Nightingale Foundation, said: “Nurses have been on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic, providing expert care and support to patients and their families during these uncertain times.
“Florence Nightingale, herself a trailblazer during her career, would have been proud at the way nurses have followed in her footsteps as pioneers and leaders in the fight against the pandemic. They are truly her legacy today.”
Meanwhile, Ms Sutcliffe, chief executive of the NMC, noted that International Nurses Day was “more important than ever” this year.
“We recognise the enormous contribution existing and former professionals are making in caring for people through some of the most challenging moments of their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“They are the beating heart of our health and social care system, trusted and appreciated by the public and deserving of our admiration and respect,” she said.
“I am so grateful and proud of our nurses, nursing associates and their colleagues. I hope this special day encourages even more nurses to join or return to what is a wonderful and rewarding career.”
Julie Pearce, Marie Curie chief nurse and executive director of quality and caring services, added: “Caring for someone during their final weeks and days of life is both a privilege and a challenge.
“Right now, our frontline nurses and other professionals are committed to supporting the NHS through this national crisis, caring for patients with coronavirus and other illnesses in our hospices, in homes and care homes across our four nations.
“Nurses have never had a more difficult time providing care, and we’ve seen them rise to the challenge,” she said.